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Existing-Home Sales Fall in March for Second Straight Month

Existing-home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million in March from a downwardly revised February rate of 4.60 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Economists had forecast the March sales pace would be 4.62 million. At the same time, the median price of a new home rose to $163,800, its highest level since last November's $164,000 and up 2.5 percent since March 2011, the first price increase since December 2010.

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Initial Unemployment Dip But Remain Elevated

First time claims for unemployment insurance remained over 380,000 for the second straight week for the week ended April 14, the Labor Department reported Thursday, the highest levels of the year. According to the report there were 386,000 initial claims, down from the revised 388,000 one week earlier The prior week├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós report was adjusted upward by 8,000 Economists had expected initial claims would decrease (from the original report) to 365,000.

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Home Prices Climb 5.8% Year-Over-Year: RE/MAX

Home prices rose year-over-year on average for the second straight month, according to RE/MAX. Of 53 metro areas surveyed by the real estate company, RE/MAX found that median prices climbed 5.8 percent higher than in March last year. Home sales moved in the same direction by cresting 25.4 percent higher than in February, a shift upward year-over-year by 1.5 percent. The company chalked up the good news for prices and sales to improvements in weather, low interest rates, and better home prices.

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Debt Crises Inspire 6.9% Pick-Up in Loan Volume: MBA

Debt crises in Europe spurred a wave of refinance applications last week, leading mortgage loan applications to tick up by 6.9 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group found that mortgage loan application volume went up 6.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before. The Refinance Index edged up 13.5 percent from the week before, with the refinance share of mortgage activity increasing to 75.2 percent of the share of total activity.

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Provident Bank Appoints New Commercial Banking Leader

In Rockland County, New York, Provident Bank is welcoming a new leader for its commercial banking team. The company, a subsidiary of Provident New York Bancorp, recently announced Marianne McGoldrick as the firm's senior managing director of commercial banking. In her new role for Provident Bank, McGoldrick will handle team leadership for building and cultivating commercial relationships. Prior to joining the company, McGoldrick served as the vice president and senior relationship manager for HSBC's middle market portfolio in the Hudson Valley region.

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Zillow Adds Agent Hub to Online Offerings

Rolling out a new online platform for real estate agents, Zillow, Inc., recently announced the launch of Agent Hub. Zillow's tool will give users a place to find and manage information from the website in one location. Additionally, the CRM platform automatically saves leads and connections accrued via Zillow, allowing agents to make individual notations and track high-priority contacts. Other benefits provided through Agent Hub include an analytics dashboard for monitoring listings and agent profiles and metrics.

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Cleveland Fed Forecasts Uncertainty for Nation’s Fiscal Future

Fed

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has released its spring Forefront report addressing the budget shortfalls throughout the U.S. Examining the risk that weakening public finances have on specific regions of the country, the Cleveland Fed is forecasting an uncertain future for the country's financial stability. The pension funds, which would deliver a shock to the broader financial system upon failure, appear more stable than previous reports have suggested. The bank evaluated bank capital requirements and tax system tradeoffs.

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Multifamily Surge Leads Housing Permits to Four-Year High

Housing permits surged another 4.5 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 747,000, the highest level since September 2008, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported jointly Tuesday. At the same time though, housing starts fell for the third time in the last four months to the lowest level since last October. March housing starts were reported at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 compared with 694,000 in February. Starts have been flat for the past three years.

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Tradeweb Reaches Benchmark for TBA-MBS Trades

Touting its unique platform, Tradeweb Markets LLC has announced that the company recently reached a new benchmark, with more than $1 trillion in mortgage securities risk offset through the use of its trading technology. Tradeweb credits the company's new round-robin functionality of its programs for its success in the to-be announced-mortgage-backed securities (TBA-MBS) market.

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Financial Literacy Day Offers Consultation to Congressional Employees

Capitol Hill staffers are getting a chance to learn more about the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. The company recently announced that it will hold a free clinic for Congressional employees on Tuesday, April 17. The financial planning initiative from CFP is part of the 2012 Financial Literacy Day, which was organized by Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. Through the clinic, CFP will offer one-on-one personal finance consultation for participants. Attendees for the CFP event will gain advice on mortgages, debt management, and more.

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