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Wells Fargo & Co. said it extended $51 billion in loans and loan commitments to its customers in January, bringing the total credit extended to customers to $144 billion in the past four months.

That amount is nearly six times the $25 billion that Wells Fargo received from the U.S. Treasury last fall. The government has been pumping money into the financial system since the credit crisis crimped lending to consumers because investors, worried about rising defaults, have shunned that debt.

Associated Press

In the past four months, Wells Fargo has extended in loans and loan commitments six times the $25 billion that it received from the U.S. Treasury last fall.

Of the $51 billion loaned by Wells Fargo in January, almost half was for home mortgages, with $14 billion to renew commercial loans, $7 billion in new commercial loans and $6 billion in consumer loans.

"Wells Fargo has remained 'open for business' throughout the credit crises and continues to prudently extend credit to creditworthy consumer and business customers throughout the United States," said Chief Financial Officer Howard Atkins.

Earlier this month, Wells Fargo said it would slash its dividend 85% amid growing scrutiny from regulators and concerns about its once-strong balance sheet. The San Francisco-based bank last fall said it did not need government help when it announced a takeover of rival Wachovia.

Some critics have been contending that banks that have received investment from the Treasury Department haven't been putting that money to work via new loans.

Wells Fargo's shares recently traded at $15.89, down 7.7%, amid a broader slide in financial stocks after their surge the past two weeks. The stock is up 30% this month but still down 47% this year.

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