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Government-sponsored mortgage giant

Fannie Mae

( FNM) posted a big first-quarter loss Tuesday and said it would raise $6 billion through a stock offering to shore up its balance sheet.

Fannie lost $2.2 billion, or $2.57 a diluted share, in the quarter, driven by $4.4 billion in mark-to-market fair value losses to derivative securities and widening credit spreads. The company also increased its provision for credit losses to $3.2 billion, due to increased charge-offs.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of 81 cents a share.

Federal regulators have directed Fannie to raise capital to address its depleted balance sheet as the housing slump continues and credit crisis lingers. Fannie said it would raise its $6 billion through offering of common, noncumulative, mandatory convertible preferred and nonconvertible preferred stock.

The Office of Federal Housing and Enterprise Oversight, Fannie's regulator, responded by saying it would lift a two-year-old consent order it placed on the company after an accounting scandal and lowering the company's capital reserve requirement to 15% from 20% after the money is raised.

Fannie also said it would cut its dividend by 10 cents to 25 cents a share beginning in the third quarter. The move will save $390 million annually, Fannie said.

Fannie shares were shedding 7.2% to $26.25 in recent premarket trading.

Mortgage lenders have been hit hard in the credit crisis beginning last summer, a situation that has not improved of late.

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Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report

, in a

Securities and Exchange Commission

filing last week, said it hadn't yet decided whether it will take on certain mortgage debt from

Countrywide Financial

( CFC) when the bank completes its acquisition in the third quarter.

Fellow government-sponsored mortgage lender

Freddie Mac

( FRE) reports results May 14.