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360 Mortgage Group Expands Refi Offerings

360 Mortgage Group, a Texas-based privately-owned mortgage bank, recently announced the addition of two new mortgage refinance products to its inventory. The bank now offers customers access to the Veterans Affairs (VA) Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan Program and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Non-Credit Qualifying Streamline Product.

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Deloitte Consumer Spending Index Loses More Ground in December

Consumer spending continued its backslide in December, according to professional services firm Deloitte. Deloitte's Consumer Spending Index--which is made up of components measuring consumer tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages, and real home prices--slipped to 3.81 in December from November's reading of 3.96. The decline continues a downward trend that started in November after nearly a year of steady gains. Most of the drop in spending stems from an increase in unemployment claims following superstorm Sandy.

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Unemployment Drops in 22 States in December

Unemployment

Unemployment rates fell in 22 states in December but rose in 16, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday in its monthly Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) release. In November, unemployment rates dropped in 45 states. The unemployment rate based on the sum of the regional reports computed to 7.7 percent, slightly below the 7.8 percent national rate reported January 4.

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Vertical Capital Fund Fares Well in First Year

Vertical Capital income Fund (VCAPX), a fund that invests in mortgages and deeds of trust, outperformed its benchmark in its first fiscal year, according to a release from Irvine, California-based Vertical Capital Markets Group.

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Contained Inflation, Debt Ceiling Woes Nudge Rates Down

Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey registered little motion among rates for the week ending January 17. The average 30-year fixed rate slipped to 3.38 percent (0.7 point), down from 3.40 percent last week. The 15-year fixed rate averaged 2.66 percent (0.7 point), the same as in the previous week's survey. Bankrate.com, on the other hand, reported more extreme shifts as markets grow increasingly nervous about the country's continued financial uncertainties.

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BofA, Citigroup Reveal Troubles in Q4 Earnings

Bank of America and Citigroup both released their fourth-quarter earnings Thursday, revealing the scars their legacy mortgage issues have left. BofA reported net income of $732 million, a significant decline from $2 billion in Q4 2011. The bank did better on a year-long scale, coming in at $4.2 billion (well above its $1.4 billion income in 2011). Legal expenses also weighed down profits at Citigroup, though the company did manage to come out ahead on a yearly basis with a $1.2 billion profit in Q4.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Plunge To 5-Year Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance plunged 37,000 for the week ending January 12 to 335,000, the lowest level since January 2008, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected claims to drop to 368,000 from the prior week.

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Housing Starts Soar in December

Builders broke ground on new homes at a yearly rate of 954,000 in December, a 12.1 percent jump over November and the highest rate since July 2008, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Thursday. Applications for residential permits rose a modest 0.3 percent, and residential completions rose 1.6 percent. Single-family starts rose in December to a rate of 616,000, the strongest pace since June 2008. According to the data, multi-family starts rose in December to a pace of 330,000 from November's revised 268,000.

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