Fed extends loans to help consumers, small business

The Federal Reserve is extending a program intended to spur lending to consumers and small businesses at lower rates, but will not expand the types of loans made.

The Fed extended its Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility or TALF, through March 31 for most types of loans it makes. The program was scheduled to end Dec. 31.

The TALF started in March and figures prominently in efforts by the Fed and the Obama administration to ease credit, stabilize the financial system and help end the recession.

Under the program, investors and banks use the TALF money to buy securities backed by auto and student loans, credit cards, business equipment and loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.