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Initial Claims Flat While Continuing Claims Fall Lower

First time claims for unemployment insurance were unchanged at 351,000 for the week ended February 18, following upward adjustments for numbers recorded the previous week which represented a four-year record low. The U.S. Department of Labor also reported that continuing claims fell 52,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the fourth drop observed during the first six weeks of the year. Total claims including emergency and extended federal programs fell 178,619 to 7,502,791 for the period, while extended claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô based on individual state unemployment rates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô increased.

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Mortgage Application Volume Fell 4.5%: MBA

Mortgage application volume contracted by 4.5 percent from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The Market Composite Index, a measure of volume for loan applications, fell 3.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the MBA├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós weekly survey. Seasonally adjusted purchases declined by 2.9 percent from the week before and rose by 1.4 percent on an unadjusted basis. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity declined from 5.4 percent of total volume to 5.3 percent.

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Carwin Advisors Forecasts Recovery for Las Vegas, Phoenix

Revealing results from its predictive modeling survey of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoneix, Arizona, Carwin Advisors is forecasting the recovery timeline for both metropolitan areas. According to Carwin, Las Vegas will have a longer wait for housing market improvement, while Phoenix is expected to be well on the way to recovery by 2013. Carwin predicts that the housing market will eventually normalize to levels of new and existing home sales that were average for the metro area during the early 2000s.

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DRI Adds New Sales Position, Promotes Schaefer to SVP

Bolstering support for its executive sales and client activities , DRI Management Systems, Inc., is enhancing its leadership lineup. The technology solutions company has hired Michael J. Bailin to the newly added position of regional sales executive for the western states division, and DRI also announced the recent promotion of Nancy Schaefer to the role of senior vice president of client operations.

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Mortgage Rates Up on Greek Bailout 2.0: Zillow

Signaling the still-steady role played by eurozone affairs in U.S. markets, real estate Web site ZIllow found interest rates for mortgage loans by and large rising this week. The Web site found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticking up to land somewhere between 3.67 percent and 3.76 percent before arriving at the latter rate Tuesday. For the 15-year loan, the rate hovered around 3 percent, while rates for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages stayed near 2.75 percent.

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Big Three Banks See Shares, Stock Rise With Dow Jones

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished by end of day Friday at a clip just below 13,000 points, lifting stocks and shares for all but one of the four major financial institutions. The jump reportedly marks the highest for the Dow Jones since 2008, just before the worst of the financial crisis, as investors got bullish on another round of bailout votes for debt-saddled Greece. The index closed on a .35-percent hike Friday, up 45.79 points, giving Wells Fargo a 2.37-percent boost to wrap up stocks at $31.09 per share.

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Thompson & Knight Adds Two Partners in New York

Thompson & Knight LLP has gained two new partners for its Real Estate Capital Markets division, announcing the addition of attorneys William M. O'Connor and Evelyn H. Seeler to the company's New York office. In their new positions with the law firm, O'Connor and Seeler will be responsible for handling clients within the Real Estate and Capital Markets unit, as well as restructuring and bankruptcy matters.

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JKHY’s Symitar Division Boosts Credit Union Services

The technology division of Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. (JKHY), is experiencing an uptick in interest from credit unions, announcing that more than 16 existing credit union clients have recently opted to engage the company's outsourcing module through JKHY's Symitar unit. JKHY's Symitar division encompasses both in-house and outsourced platform options, and credit unions are increasingly migrating from the in-house offering, Episys, to the outsourced version, EASE.

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Home Sales Rise 3.4% in January: RE/MAX

Home sales climbed 3.4 percent year-over-year in January, hitting a stride for the seventh consecutive month, according to RE/MAX. The real estate company released a National Housing Report that shows a sudden sales jump by yearend 2011, with homes for sale down 19.3 percent month-over-month. The company attributed falling inventory numbers to a shortfall in foreclosed properties, with home prices declining by 0.8 percent in 53 metropolitan areas. Home prices leapt forward in 15 metro areas year-over-year, with figures increasing by 23.8 percent in Miami, among many other cities.

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