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The Federal Reserve has extended the life of key programs aimed at busting through credit clogs and restoring stability to financial markets.

The Fed said Tuesday that the programs, originally slated to last through Jan. 30, will be extended through April 30. The Fed said it was taking the action "in light of continuing strains in financial markets."

The Fed's emergency lending facility, which investment firms can tap for a ready source of cash, is covered by the decision. This category was recently broadened to include any loans that were made to the U.S. and London-based broker-dealer subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.

A program that lets financial institutions temporarily swap risky investments, such as shunned mortgage-backed securities, for super-safe Treasury securities also is covered.

Another Fed program being extended makes loans to money market mutual funds — via banks — to help the funds, which have been under pressure as skittish investors demand withdrawals.

Some other crucial Fed programs aimed at unlocking lending already are authorized to last through April 30, the Fed noted.

Those include a program where the Fed buys mounds of short-term debt that companies rely on for day-to-day operations, a facility where the Fed provides a financial backstop for the mutual fund industry, and credit arrangements with other central banks.


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