Banks are poised to pick up the slack as the Federal Reserve Board withdraws from the mortgage-backed securities market, analysts and buyers of such bonds say.

The Fed's $925 billion of purchases since January have driven down mortgage rates, spurring refinancings and home sales. Last month the central bank committed to buying a total of $1.25 trillion of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae mortgage bonds but said it plans to taper off the purchases and stop them by the end of the first quarter. That announcement has created uncertainty about where mortgage rates are headed.

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