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Mortgage Rates Crash Through Record Lows

Fed

For the second week in a row, mortgage rates hit new record lows, and for the first time since mid-October 2009, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rate is lower than the 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rate. Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac, attributes the falling rates to "mortgage securities purchases by the Federal Reserve and indicators of a weakening economy," such as slow personal income growth in August and last quarter's downwardly revised Gross Domestic Product.

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Obama, Romney Spar over Dodd-Frank at First Debate

Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has seemed particularly enthusiastic about discussing housing on the national stage, but Wednesday's debates saw a brief skirmish between the two candidates about regulation for the mortgage industry. The fleeting exchange on banking and mortgage regulation comes at an apt time, as New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit earlier in the week against JPMorgan Chase over mortgage securities fraud committed by a former Bear Stearns unit.

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Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company Appoints Division Leader

New

Nichole Guthneck will help to lead Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company as its newly-appointed division leader, the company announced. In her role at Guaranteed, Guthneck is responsible for training, hiring, oversight, marketing, and policy for Guaranteed Direct, the firm's web-based residential mortgage platform.

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First-Time Unemployment Claims Inch Up, Stop Short of Expectations

Unemployment

First-time claims for unemployment insurance edged up by 4,000 to 367,000 for the week ended September 29, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week's report was revised upward to 363,000 first time claims from the originally reported 359,000. Although initial claims appear to have plateaued (occasional weather-related spikes notwithstanding) first time claims fell in only five weeks during the third quarter, with a wide range: As high as 388,000 in the week following the July 4 holiday week and 385,000 in each of the two weeks following Hurricane Isaac, but as low as 352,000 when the quarter began.

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How Does Benchmarking Affect Payroll Data?

When the September employment situation report is released Friday, one number will loom large: Not the number of new payroll jobs--expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg to be about 113,000├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ôand not the unemployment rate (expected to be 8.1 percent), but 386,000. That's the number of jobs added to the nation's payrolls not by employers, but by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its annual "benchmarking" of payroll data.

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Refinance Activity Brings Prepayments to Seven-Year High

Mortgage delinquency rates fell in August as prepayment rates shot up, Lender Processing Services (LPS) revealed. LPS' August Mortgage Monitor report showed a national delinquency rate of 6.9 percent, consistent with the company's earlier first-look data. Delinquencies were down 2.3 percent from July and 10.6 percent from their January 2010 peak. The drop in delinquency was accompanied by a significant boost in prepayment rates, hitting an annualized rate of nearly 25 percent--a level not seen since 2005.

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