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FHLBank Advances Surging Among Largest Institutions

Secured loans, or advances, from the Federal Home Loan Banks system to lenders dried up significantly after the market crash of 2008, when the loans peaked at about $1 trillion. But since then, advances have risen to $492 billion, largely due to a flood of secured loans to the system's four largest members—JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citibank. These lenders accounted for $135 billion of the contributions through 2013.

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Fed Districts Report Economic Growth as Weather Clears

Reports from the Federal Reserve’s 12 districts indicate economic activity has increased in most regions across the country since the end of February as the unusually harsh winter came to an end. According to the most recent update, eight districts—Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco—characterized their economic expansion from March to April as “modest or moderate.”

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Mounting Legal Expenses Eat Up BofA’s Earnings

Legal expenses took a substantial bite out of Bank of America’s first-quarter earnings, resulting in a net loss of $276 million to start the year. “The cost of resolving more of our mortgage issues hurt our earnings this quarter,” said Brian Moynihan, CEO of the North Carolina-based megabank. “But the earnings power of our business and customer strategy generated solid results and we continued to return excess capital to our shareholders.”

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Refinance Activity Lifts Mortgage Apps in Latest Index

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released on Wednesday its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, reporting a 4.3 percent improvement in loan application volume for the week ending April 11. The headline index was boosted by a 7 percent gain in MBA’s measure of refinance applications, which has been weak over the past few weeks as rising mortgage rates drain the pool of remaining potential refinances.

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Housing Starts Miss Expectations; Permits Fall

Homebuilding across the country lifted slightly in March but still fell short of expectations, while permits for new housing tumbled. According to figures released Wednesday by the Census Bureau and HUD, March housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, 2.8 percent above February’s revised estimate but below a consensus forecast of 970,000 predicted in a survey of economists.

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Ellie Mae: Network Outage Not Triggered by Attack

In a release issued late Monday, tech firm Ellie Mae acknowledged that a network outage in early April did not stem from a possible cyber-attack as originally thought. Instead, the downtime was "triggered by a confluence of factors involving network, hardware, software and demand for service." The company also commented that it has taken steps to prevent future incidents.

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Report: Nevada Housing Poised for Steady Improvement

It would appear that the Silver State is slowly making a comeback, according to a new report from Wells Fargo’s Economics Group. Overall, the group believes that Nevada's housing market is on the right track, fueled by rising employment, higher incomes, and a rapidly increasing population. However, inventories "will have to come down further before residential construction can really take off."

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Analyzing the Rise of Shorter-Term Refinances

According to CoreLogic's data, shorter-term refinances (those with lifespans of less than 30 years) accounted for nearly 40 percent of market share in 2013, a vast leap from less than 14 percent in 2006. Of that total, 15-year loan terms contributed 27.3 percentage points, more than tripling in market share since 2007. However, with rates slowly but steadily climbing, the popularity of shorter-term refinances may be short-lived.

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