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Star Trek-Themed Home Boasts Galactic Price Tag

An Australian homeowner who used his wealth to build a lavish, sci fi-themed estate has listed his galactic dream home for $10.5 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, the individual who created the luxury property is an avid fan of Star Trek, and he designed his house to mimic the television show's famous vessel, the Starship Enterprise.

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Economy Surprises With 163,000 New Jobs in July

The nation added a surprising 163,000 jobs in July but the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent as the number of people working actually declined, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. At the same time, June's paltry job gains originally reported at 80,000 were reduced to 64,000 while May├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós job numbers edged up to 87,000 from 77,000. Average weekly hours remained 34.5 and average hourly earnings rose to $19.77 from $19.75, continuing pressure on household incomes, as the economic recovery sputters along.

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Mortgage Rates Tick Up After Three Months

Freddie Mac announced Thursday that after more than three months of record-low drops, mortgage rates slid up this week. Freddie Mac's survey showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.55 percent (0.7 point) for the week ending August 2, up from 3.49 percent the previous week. Before this week, the average 30-year FRM had fallen to or matched record-low levels for 13 of the past 14 weeks. The 15-year FRM also slid up, averaging 2.83 percent (0.6 point) from 2.80 percent last week.

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Former Morgan Stanley Leader Launches Investment Firm

Morgan Stanley├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós former head of U.S. housing strategy, Oliver Chang, has formed an asset management firm targeting investments in the single-family rental market, recently co-founding Sylvan Road Capital, LLC. The newly formed company from Chang, Robert Lee, Sarah Lee, and Gavin Kleinknecht expects to put more than $1 billion into the market during the next two years.

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IBKC Closes Acquisition of Gulf Bancorp, Florida Gulf Bank

Another large acquisition in the Florida market has been completed, with the announcement that IberiaBank Corporation (IBKC) has purchased Gulf Bancorp, Inc., and its subsidiary, Florida Gulf Bank. IBKC's deal closed following the end of business on July 31, the same day that BB&T Corporation concluded its buy out of BankAtlantic

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Live Like an Olympian in Michael Phelps’ $1.42M Condo

Though his performance during the 2012 Olympic games has been less dominant than anticipated, Michael Phelps is proving his commitment to competition, having recently jumped into the volatile real estate market. According to Zillow, Phelps has listed his Baltimore condominium for $1.42 million.

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Initial Jobless Claims Up, Less than Expected

First time claims for unemployment insurance rose 8,000 for the week ended July 28 to 365,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 370,000 initial claims. The prior week├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós total was revised up to 357,000 from the originally reported 353,000. Continuing claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô reported on a one-week lag ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô fell 19,000 to 3,272,000 from the prior week's 3,291,000, revised from the originally reported 3,297,000. The numbers reflected a slightly stronger labor picture after a volatile few weeks.

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Federal Open Market Committee Holds Off on Any Stimulus

Fed

Acknowledging economic activity decelerated somewhat over the first half of this year and growth in employment has been slow in recent months, the Federal Open Market Committee nonetheless decided Wednesday to take no new actions to stimulate growth. Concluding a two-day meeting the FOMC instead said it would maintain its low interest rate policy and continue previously announced programs to reinvest proceeds of maturing Treasury securities it already holds and extend the average maturity of its portfolio.

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Freddie: 81% of Q2 Refis Upheld or Slashed Debt

Freddie Mac released the results of its second quarter refinance analysis Wednesday, revealing that homeowners who refinance continue to strengthen their housing situations. Freddie Mac's report showed that 81 percent of homeowners who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage either maintained the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance in the year's second quarter. Of these borrowers, 59 percent maintained about the same loan amount (the highest share ever recorded), while 23 percent reduced their principal balance.

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DeMarco Nets Criticism, Praise for Principal Reductions Decision

In a long-running debate, Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, stated again this week that he does not support principal reductions and does not endorse their use at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. After stating his position, he immediately faced criticism and opposition from a broad spectrum of individuals, especially throughout the government. However, DeMarco's decision received a few words of praise as well. Industry insiders and pundits reacted to the decision on Monday and Tuesday.

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