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A record share of U.S. homeowners cut their loan principal when refinancing in the fourth quarter rather than tap their home's equity for cash, home funding company Freddie Mac said on Thursday. Record low mortgage rates in the fourth quarter and a relative dearth of equity build-up after home prices fell about 30 percent on average from 2006 peaks drove consumers to pare debt. One-third of those who refinanced shaved their loan balance, saving billions of dollars, Freddie Mac said.

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