WASHINGTON - Lending and investing by the Federal Home Loan banks rose sharply in the 12 months ended June 30, with assets up 33% over the year earlier, according to Federal Housing Finance Board data.

The growth was accompanied by a sizable increase in net income, a tiny uptick in return on equity, and bigger dividend payments to the more than 5,000 commercial banks and thrifts that belong to the Home Loan Bank System.

But the system's return on assets was down from the year before, and its return on equity and dividend rates are still below the levels of two and three years ago.

Rates of return also varied widely among district Home Loan banks, highlighting the interbank differences that have so far foiled congressional attempts to revamp the system and make it more profitable.

The system's total assets at June 30 were $247 billion, up from $185 billion the year before and $158 billion in mid-1993. Earnings for the first half of 1995 totaled $577 million, up from $498 million in the 1994 first half and $478 million in the first half of 1993.

The systemwide return on average assets in the first six months of this year was 0.47%, down from 0.54% the year before and 0.61% in the first half of 1993.

Earning the highest return on assets in the first half were the Home Loan banks of New York and Atlanta, at O.59%. The Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, far and away the system's largest, with assets of nearly $47 billion, had the lowest return on average assets, at 0.39%.

The system's return on average equity was 8.4% in the first half of 1995, up slightly from last year's 8.3% but down from 8.9% in 1993.

The New York bank, the system's second-largest, with assets of $23 billion, had the highest return on average equity, at 10.3%. The San Francisco bank had the lowest return on equity, at 7.1%.

The average dividend paid to system members was 6.46% in the first half of 1995, up from 6.14% in 1994 but down from 6.7% in 1993.

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