Fannie Mae , the largest provider of funding for U.S. home mortgages, on Friday said it lost $23.2 billion in the first quarter, sending it to the Treasury for a second time for capital to keep it afloat.

The Washington-based company said its regulator requested $19 billion from the Treasury under a senior preferred stock purchase plan to preserve a positive net worth. The loss compares with deficits of $2.2 billion in the year-ago period, and $25.2 billion in the previous quarter.

As the nation's housing market reels in its worst downturn since the 1930s, credit-related expenses accounted for the majority of Fannie Mae's loss, at $20.9 billion, the company said in a statement. It also took a $5.7 billion loss on mortgage securities.

Provisions for credit losses soared 85 percent as the U.S. economy faltered, expanding delinquencies that have wreaked havoc on the entire financial system to consumers with better credit, it said.

On Friday, the U.S. government said the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent in April, the highest since September 1983.

Fannie Mae's guaranty business, including loans with lower risk characteristics, has begun to experience increases in delinquency and default rates as a result of the sharp rise in unemployment, the continued decline in home prices, the prolonged downturn in the economy and the rise in loan balances relative to property values, it said.

Fannie Mae's results appear to counter recent data suggesting the housing market is bottoming as falling home prices and mortgage rates increase affordability. This week the government said pending sales of U.S. homes rose in March for a second straight month.

Robert Shiller, the Yale University housing economist who predicted the housing bubble, this week said a bottom would probably not be seen until 2010.

The speed of the downturn has greatly limited the company's ability to estimate loss reserves, it said.

(Editing by Walker Simon)