http://today.reuters.com/news/artic...ingFinancial&storyID=nN02342721&from=business NEW YORK, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Mortgage Lenders Network USA, a large U.S. subprime lender, said it has stopped funding loans and accepting applications for loans, citing deteriorating conditions in the mortgage market, and has temporarily laid off about 80 percent of its 1,800 employees. Privately held Mortgage Lenders also said it is in "strategic negotiations" with several Wall Street firms regarding its loan operations. Roughly four-fifths, or about 1,440, of the Middletown, Connecticut-based firm's employees are on "temporary furlough," spokesman James Pedrick said in an interview. Mortgage Lenders said it has five regional lending offices and employs about 950 people in its home state. The retrenchment is the latest sign of stress among subprime lenders, which make higher-cost loans to people with weaker credit histories. It comes less than a week after similar-sized rival Ownit Mortgage Solutions Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.