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First-Quarter GDP Shrinks at Fastest Rate Since 2009

In its third and final estimate of first-quarter growth, the Department of Commerce recorded an annualized 2.9 percent decline in GDP throughout the year's first months. While analysts expected GDP growth to shrink further following the last estimate of a 1.0 percent decline, the reported number represents a sharper downturn than the 1.8 percent contraction that had been forecast.

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Listings, Prices Continue to Rise in Florida

Florida's housing market had more new listings, an increase in median prices, and an uptick in inventory in May, according to Florida Realtors. "Right now, the market offers a great opportunity for sellers, who are seeing nearly 93 percent of their asking price at the closing table. And mortgage rates, though rising, remain historically low—giving consumers more buying power," said 2014 Florida Realtors president Sherri Meadows.

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Refinance Volume Lifts Slightly in April

Overall refinance volume rose slightly in April, but remained at levels more comparable to those seen in 2008, according to the latest from FHFA. Roughly 20,000 refinances were completed through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) in April, bringing total HARP refinances to approximately 3.2 million since the program's inception.

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Consumer Confidence Continues to Increase in June

Consumers are continuing to progress on the long journey toward restoring their faith in the American economy, according to a monthly Consumer Confidence Index report released by the Conference Board. The index, one of the leading predictors of economic growth in all sectors of the economy, now stands at 85.2, up from 82.2 in May. The largely positive findings could indicate that consumers are more ready to commit to larger, longer-term purchases.

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New Home Sales Shoot Up 18.6% in May

Sales of new single-family homes blew past all expectations in May even as prices and inventory continued to present a challenge. According to figures released Tuesday by the Census Bureau, new home sales last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000, representing an 18.6 percent spike above April's downwardly revised rate of 425,000.

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Case-Shiller Price Indices Hit Brakes in April

In its latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report, S&P Dow Jones Indices recorded an annual price increase of 10.8 percent among both the 10- and 20-city composites. Those figures compare to year-over-year increases of 12.6 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively. A consensus of economists surveyed by Econoday called for a gain of 11.4 percent in the 20-city index.

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Massachusetts, Georgia Lead in April Price Gains

Just ahead of Tuesday's S&P/Case-Shiller Indices report, Black Knight Financial Services released its own Home Price Index (HPI) for April, recording a slight dip in price increases compared to March. According to Black Knight, the company's latest HPI—based on April transactions—registered $236,000 for the entire United States, a monthly increase of 0.9 percent compared to March's 1.0 percent gain.

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May Inventory Surges; Lower Price Tier Still Struggling

The inventory of for-sale homes nationwide spiked in May, but the latest improvement isn't expected to do much for first-time homebuyers and other shoppers challenged by housing affordability concerns. According to Zillow, after dropping in 2012 and remaining low throughout 2013 and the start of 2014, the available stock of for-sale homes climbed 4.3 percent from April to May, marking the third straight month of gains.

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RBS, FHFA Reach $99.5M Settlement in Securities Case

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), functioning as the conservator for Freddie Mac, announced a $99.5 million settlement with RBS Securities, Inc. The settlement resolves alleged violations of federal and state securities law in connection with private-label mortgage-backed securities (PLS) purchased by Freddie Mac during 2005 to 2007.

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