McLEAN, Va. - Freddie Mac said Thursday that its retained portfolio grew by a record $15.4 billion during February, to $23.1 billion.

The retained portfolio grew by $21.4 billion in the first two months of the year, the company said. As a result, it raised its projection of full-year growth to $65 billion to $75 billion.

Similarly, Fannie Mae said last week that its retained portfolio grew 18.7%, to $24.6 billion, in February, and that it now expects to beat its full-year estimates of 13.6% to 14.9% growth.

The companies attributed the portfolio growth to more mortgages entering the secondary market as well as widening of spreads between yields and debt costs due to the ongoing refinance boom.

"There have been many attractive investment opportunities during the last two months. Mortgage spreads widened, and the volume of mortgage securities sold by banks remained strong," said Greg Parseghian, Freddie's chief investment officer.

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