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Improving Markets Index Reaches 259, Encompasses All 50 States

As more markets across the country improved, all 50 states--plus the District of Columbia--were able to receive representation in February's Improving Markets Index (IMI) released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and First American. Last year during this time, just 36 states were represented.

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Fannie Mae CFO to Retire by Mid-Year

Fannie Mae's CFO is planning to retire from the company by the end of the June, the GSE said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to the filing, Susan McFarland, who also serves as EVP at Fannie Mae, "notified the company that she will retire ... after a transition period that will begin on the effective date of the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer by our Board of Directors and end no later than June 30, 2013."

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Ally Reports Net Profit in 2012 After Cutting Mortgage Weight

Ally Financial reported net income of $1.4 billion for 2012's last quarter as the bank continues to shift away from the mortgage business. Last quarter's $1.4 billion income was a marked turnaround from the net loss of $206 million reported at the end of 2011. For the entire year, Ally recorded a net income of $1.2 billion compared to a net loss of $157 million in 2011. According to the bank's quarterly earnings report, performance was largely "affected by strong on sale revenue in Mortgage Operations."

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Applications Pick Up, Purchase Volume Strongest in 18 Months

application

Mortgage applications saw a slight bump in the recent holiday week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey. The survey's Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 3.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending February 1. Capital Economics also issued its data for mortgage application activity throughout January, observing that application volume for purchase loans was the strongest it's been in a year and a half.

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Trulia: Asking Prices Post Major Gains, Rent Prices Cool in January

Asking prices rose dramatically in January as renting prices cooled off somewhat, according to the latest data in Trulia's Price and Rent monitors. The company's Price Monitor showed a 0.3 percent quarter-over-quarter rise in January (without seasonal adjustment). On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices increased 2.2 percent quarterly. While January's numbers signal a strong price recovery, Trulia's chief economist warned the month's gains could disappear in some areas.

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Justice Department Sues S&P Over Pre-Crisis Ratings

The Justice Department (DoJ) and Standard & Poor's (S&P) are at odds with other over civil fraud charges stemming from an alleged scheme to defraud investors in the lead-up to 2008's financial meltdown. The DoJ filed a civil lawsuit against S&P and its parent company, McGraw-Hill, Monday, alleging that S&P "knowingly [issued] inflated credit ratings" for collateralized debt obligations in the years before the crash, misrepresenting their creditworthiness and understating their risks.

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