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Daily Dose

Servicer Earnings Underscore Uncertain Future

Three special servicers—Nationstar, Ocwen, and Walter Investment Corp.—released their fourth-quarter and year-end earnings reports with revenue increases and increasingly active originations sectors. At least one group of analysts suggests special servicers might “become the next generation of non-prime originators,” according to a report earlier this year from Moody’s.

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Fourth-Quarter GDP Growth Slashed

In the second of three planned reports, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) put gross domestic product (GDP) growth at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in Q4 2013, down from its initial estimate of 3.2 percent in January and its final report of 4.1 percent in the third-quarter. Full-year growth is estimated at 1.9 percent compared to 2.8 percent in 2012.

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Fannie Mae Undeterred by Housing Cold Snap

Fannie Mae released its latest economic forecast, which acknowledged that atypically harsh winter weather in much of the United States has slowed new home construction and sales in Q1 2014. But the report also reaffirms Fannie Mae's position that the economy and housing markets will improve on 2013 growth by the end of the year's fourth quarter.

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FHFA Rate Index Up Slightly in January

Despite declines in Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey throughout the month, national data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) shows mortgage rates about a tenth of a percent from December to January. Based on a collection of data from a small monthly survey of lenders, FHFA reports the contract rate for the composite of all mortgage loans closed in January was 4.36 percent, up 11 basis points from December.

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January Pending Sales Essentially Flat

The National Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, edged up 0.1 percent to an even 95 last month as regional gains and declines offset each other. While it was hardly a banner report, January’s gain at least turned around the prior month’s originally reported 8.7 percent decline to 92.4, the lowest reading since November 2011.

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Underwater Rate Falls Below 20%; Declines Expected to Slow

For the first time in years, the national negative equity rate dipped below 20 percent to close out 2013, Zillow revealed Friday in its quarterly Negative Equity Report. According to the company’s stats, negative equity declined to 19.4 percent nationally as of the end of last quarter, bringing the underwater rate down more than 8 percentage points over the course of 2013.

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Twitter Chat Recap: New Home Sales, Antonakes, and More

On Thursday afternoon, MReport hosted its first-ever Live Twitter Chat, in which industry experts answer questions from all comers. Joining us for the first session was Rick Sharga, EVP for Auction.com and one of the preeminent voices in the housing industry today. In case you weren't able to make it, we recapped just a few of the topics tackled in the discussion.

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Freddie Mac Reports Q4 Profit; Will Pay $10B to Treasury

Freddie Mac released on Thursday its quarterly earnings report for the end of 2013, revealing yet another strong quarter—the ninth straight. Net income at the enterprise totaled $8.6 billion in Q4, bringing total 2013 profits up to $48.7 billion. According to the company, full-year earnings were spurred by the ongoing housing recovery, legal settlements totaling $7.7 billion, and a tax benefit of $23.3 billion.

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Mortgage Rates Mixed to End February

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, released Thursday, has fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) products rising over the week ending February 27, with the 30-year fixed coming up to 4.37 percent (0.7 point) from 4.33 percent previously. A year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.51 percent. At the same time, finance site Bankrate.com reported opposite movements in its own national survey.

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FDIC Banks Report Earnings Increase Despite ‘Difficulty Growing Revenue’

FDIC-insured institutions earned a net income of $154.7 billion over the year in 2013, a 9.6 percent increase over the previous year, according to a report released by the agency. “[T]he industry continues to experience difficulty growing revenue,” said FDIC chairman Martin J. Gruenberg. He listed “[n]arrow margins, modest loan growth, and a decline in mortgage refinancing activity” as hindrances to revenue growth.

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