WASHINGTON - In a surprise move, the Department of Housing and Urban Development asked Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce the maximum size of home loans they will buy next year. There was no word from the agencies on whether they would comply.

Previously, Freddie Mac said it would stick to its current limit of $203,150, despite a 3% drop in the index used to set the ceiling. Fannie Mae said it was leaning toward the same decision, but wanted to study the issue.

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