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U.S. regulator opens door wider for Americans on mortgages

WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Tuesday laid out new policies that could make it easier for many Americans to obtain mortgages, in part by holding off on any reduction in the size of mortgages the two firms can buy.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt, in his first public speech since taking office in early January, also said the two government-controlled firms would ease standards that govern when banks must buy back faulty loans from the two mortgage giants, which could also help loosen the credit taps.

"FHFA will not use its authority as conservator to reduce current loan limits," Watt said in remarks prepared for delivery at the Brookings Institution. "This decision is motivated by concerns about how such a reduction could adversely impact the health of the current housing finance market." (Reporting By Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by Andrea Ricci)