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Daily Dose

Mortgage Risk Down Slightly; Remains Nearly Double Sustainable Levels

The American Enterprise Institute's National Mortgage Risk Index (NMRI), a measure of loans’ default risk under stressful conditions, retreated to 11.6 percent last month from January’s reading of 11.8 percent. To gauge where February’s index lies historically, 1990 vintage loans would have an estimated index value of 6 percent, while riskier 2007 loans would be up at 19 percent.

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Home Prices Flat in First of Week’s Reports

The Data & Analytics division of Black Knight Financial Services (BKFS) reported no monthly change in its Home Price Index (HPI) for January, underlining the question as to where other home price reports—including the monthly Case-Shiller Home Price Indices—will land for the year’s first month. BKFS’ latest report shows the index registering $232,000 in January, unchanged from the end of 2013. Year-on-year, the index was up 8 percent from $215,000.

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OIG Finds Inconsistencies in FHLB Expenses

HERA, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, required Federal Home Loan Bank director expenses to be reported to Congress in its annual report. However, an investigation by the inspector general for the Federal Housing Finance Agency found that director expense reports contained "inconsistencies and limitations that diminish their usefulness."

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FHFA, Credit Suisse Reach $885M Agreement

According to separate releases from both FHFA and Credit Suisse, the bank will pay approximately $234 million to Fannie Mae and approximately $651 to Freddie Mac—$885 total. The settlement—the ninth out of 18 suits filed against banks by the FHFA in 2011—closes all claims against Credit Suisse in two lawsuits: FHFA v. Credit Suisse, et al. and FHFA v. Ally Financial Inc., et al.

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Survey Finds Growing Frustration over Dodd-Frank

A new survey published through George Mason University's Mercatus Center finds bankers at smaller institutions are growing increasingly anxious about the roll-out of the Dodd-Frank Act and subsequent regulatory requirements. One anonymous banker objected to "the maddening pace of illogical and unnecessary regulation (that would not) have done anything to prevent the 2008 collapse."

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Sunny Days Ahead for Growth?

Following a slowdown in activity over the previous two quarters, Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group expects economic activity to pick up in the second quarter of this year, bolstered by increases in the housing sector, consumer spending, and business investment. The housing market is expected to show a relatively strong performance, with housing starts increasing almost 20 percent to 1.1 million over the year.

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Consumer Spending Measure Flat in February

Deloitte’s Consumer Spending Index was largely flat in February, seeing “only a marginal change” amid moderate economic growth, the professional services company reported. The index, which tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future spending, edged down slightly to 3.9 from a reading of 4.0 in January. “The fundamentals for consumer spending remain stable,” commented Daniel Bachman, senior U.S. economist for Deloitte.

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Leading Indicators Point to Warm-Weather Recovery

The Conference Board reported its Leading Economic Index (LEI) increased 0.5 percent last month to 99.8, inclining steeper after a 0.1 percent gain in January. “The U.S. LEI increased sharply in February, suggesting that any weather-related volatility will be short lived and the economy should continue to improve into the second half of the year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at the Conference Board.

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Does the Labor Market Have What It Takes to Boost Housing?

In its latest Economic and Housing Market Outlook, released Wednesday, Freddie Mac expects home sales to grow along with wages this year, despite a still-tough job market in most sectors. Freddie is projecting a 3 percent rise in home sales and a 20 percent rise in new home construction in 2014, which the agency expects to level out to a 5 percent overall growth.

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Mortgage Rates Down in Lead-Up to Fed Announcement

Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, released Thursday, showed the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaging 4.32 percent (0.6 point) for the week ending March 20, down from last week, when it averaged 4.37 percent. A year ago, the 30-year FRM average was 3.54 percent. Since falling from 4.53 percent in 2014’s first weeks, the 30-year fixed average has seen limited movements since, staying in the 4.2-4.3 percent range.

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