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Daily Dose

U.S. Bank Agrees to Pay $200M in DoJ Settlement

The Justice Department announced that U.S. Bank has agreed to a $200 million settlement on claims it underwrote FHA-insured loans that did not meet eligibility requirements. U.S. Bank also admitted that its quality control program fell short of FHA requirements. Consequently, the bank failed to identify shortcomings in many of the loans it had certified for FHA insurance.

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Treasury Extends MHA, Renews PLS Push

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced an extension of the MHA program for at least one year and a new effort to help jump-start the private-label securities (PLS) market. To determine what can be done to encourage new PLS investment, the Treasury Department will be hosting a series of meetings with investors and is publishing a request for comment in the Federal Register.

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Regulators Shut Down Oklahoma Bank

FDIC announced Friday the closure of yet another insured bank, bringing the count up to 12 in the year's first half. The Oklahoma State Banking Department shut down Freedom State Bank over the weekend, closing the book on an institution described by FDIC in early May as "critically undercapitalized."

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Mortgage Risk Index Declines Slightly

AEI's National Mortgage Risk Index (NMRI), released monthly through the institute's International Center on Housing Risk, registered 11.87 percent for May, down from April's revised reading. The institute considers any index value below 6 percent as "indicative of conditions conducive to a stable market." The index acts as a stress test, measuring the percentage of loans at risk of default in the event of another economic crisis.

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Pending Home Sales Surge 6.1% in May

Pending home sales surged in May, spurred by lower interest rates and increased inventory, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday. The group's Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), which measures contract signings as an indicator of future sales figures, jumped 6.1 percent month-over-month to 103.9. It was the largest one-month increase since April 2010.

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Consumers Confident for the Moment, But Glum About Future

A notable drop in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter—the largest decline since 2009, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis—did not appear to shake consumer confidence, according to the June Survey of Consumers from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. While GDP fell 2.9 percent in the first quarter, the June sentiment survey actually showed slight improvement over the month with a gain of 0.7 percent.

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Massachusetts Single-Family Home Sales Drop in May

Massachusetts single family home sales decreased for the fourth straight month continuing the recent downward trend for the Bay State, according to a report released this week by the Warren Group. Still, there is reason to be optimistic about the market's future prospects in the state, says CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr.

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Survey: Realtors Increasingly Invested in Technology

A new survey from the National Association of Realtors found that Realtors spent more than on technology in 2013 than they had in previous years. The survey found that technology that allows work to be done while on the move generated the most interest among Realtors, including smartphones and tablets.

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OCC: Banks Taking on More Risks

As the U.S. economy continues to improve, the challenges facing the banking industry gradually shift from recovery to risk management in an effort to avoid the pitfalls that contributed to the financial crisis, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) said in its Semiannual Risk Perspective for Spring 2014. OCC warned that banks' boards of directors and senior managers should monitor heightened exceptions to traditional underwriting standards.

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Recovery Measures Strengthen; Young Employment Still Weak

In its latest barometer report, Trulia says new construction starts, existing-home sales and delinquency and foreclosure rates have all come closer to normalizing over the last quarter. One factor still hampering the recovery, however, is the unemployment rate among Millennials—a key group for household formation and first-time homeownership.

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