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Unemployment Drops to 8.1% as Economy Adds Just 96K Jobs

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in August ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the lowest level since April but the economy added just 96,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. According to Labor, 581,000 people left the labor force in August leading to the drop in the unemployment rate which nonetheless remained above the election-critical 8.0 percent. At the same time, July's job gains ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô originally reported at 163,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô were reduced to 141,000 while June's job numbers dropped to 45,000 from 87,000.

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While Candidates Avoid Housing, Five Star Speakers Engage It

Taking the stage on Thursday, speakers at the ninth annual Five Star Conference, currently underway at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, tackled the issue most politicians evade: When and where should government intervene in the housing market? Not often, according to speakers like Jack Konyk, executive director of government affairs with Weiner Brodsky Sidman Kider, and Edward Kramer, EVP of regulatory affairs with Wolters Kluwer Financial Services. The Dodd-Frank Act took center-stage during the debate, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau along with it.

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Online Lending Shows Strong Momentum in August

Online lending continues to boom, and at least one mortgage-shopping website is reporting that the housing market is heating up, based on site statistics. Citing strong findings from August, MortgageMarvel.com revealed that the number of applications for purchases and refinances submitted during the month quadrupled on a year-over-year basis.

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FDIC Stands by Its Community Bank Examinations

After some community banks expressed concerns that FDIC examinations ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£were being conducted without clear standards or consistent application of agency policies and procedures, which could discourage business growth and responsible lending,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø the FDIC conducted a report to review its examination process. Major findings of the recently-released report include that timelines for report completion often lengthens as institution ratings worsen, and these challenges are rare and even more rarely sustained.

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Previously Strong Vintage Now Faltering: Fitch

Adverse selection is leading to rating downgrades for ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£one of the strongest U.S. residential mortgage vintages,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø the pre-2005 vintage, according to Fitch Ratings. Residential mortgage-backed securities formed before 2005 "have historically performed well," according to Fitch. In fact, more than 93 percent have already been repaid in full, and principal losses account for less than 1 percent of the $650 billion vintage. Fitch has placed several classes from the pre-2005 vintage on "Rating Watch Negative."

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Homes Spending Less Time on Market: NAR

Homes are spending less time on the market as supply conditions tighten, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors released Wednesday. The median time homes stayed listed was down 29.6 percent to 69 days in July compared to 98 days in July 2011. While the overall median is down, the report stated one in five homes bought in July stayed on the market for at least six months. At the current sales pace, it would take 6.4 months to clear the supply of homes available as of the end of July, a 31.2 percent decrease from a year ago when there was a 9.3-month supply.

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Home Pricing Showing Strength Heading into September

The September data release from Clear Capital heralds good news for home pricing around the country. According to the company's Home Data Index Market Report, national price improvements observed through the end of summer mark four consecutive months of year-over-year gains. U.S. home pricing rose by 2.9 percent on a year-over-year basis to end August, and Clear Capital noted that the recorded growth "on this non-seasonally influenced metric shows fundamental strength fueling gains, rather than a boost from the summer buying season."

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Mortgage Applications Fall 2.5% as Refinances Steady: MBA

Mortgage applications fell 2.5 percent last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group found application volume declining by 3 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. Purchases fell 0.8 percent from the week before and 3 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The refinance share of mortgage activity stayed the same from last week, hovering at 79 percent, with the adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity ticking up to 5 percent of total volume. Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages by and large fell with volume.

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Alternative Modification Programs Gaining Traction

Struggling borrowers in need of alternative home loan modifications are getting a helping hand from a Texas-based mortgage lender and servicer. Homeward Residential, Inc., has rolled out a new program for consumers who are unable to qualify for modification options through federal initiatives.

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Financial Institution Sells Majority of Mortgage Business

In California, a financial institution is selling the majority of its mortgage business to facilitate a return of capital agreement in conjunction with a previous acquisition deal. Redding-based Bank of Commerce Holdings has announced that 51 percent of Bank of Commerce Mortgage has been sold back to Simonich Corporation, following a 2009 capital stock purchase transaction between the two entities.

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