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Housing Plays Small Part as Economy Adds 243K Jobs

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A still-brittle economic recovery picked up steam in January as the private sector added 243,000 jobs, driving unemployment figures to lows not seen in three years. The Labor Department said that the national unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, also signaling a fifth straight month for declines in the number of jobless Americans. Construction added 21,000 jobs from December, with gains for nonresidential construction and specialty trade contractors. Financial services lost some 5,000 jobs from last month by comparison.

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BB&T Honored with 17 Greenwich Excellence Awards

Regional bank BB&T is starting of the year with a slew of awards for its Small Business and Middle Market banking groups. Between the two company divisions, BB&T earned 17 Greenwich Excellence Awards from Greenwich Associates.

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Fairway Releases Strong Year End Statistics

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation has released its 2011 internal findings, and the company was pleased to announce that last year marked its second highest annual total for mortgage loan volume in Fairway's history.

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Mortgage Rates Plummet On Fed Action, Economy

Mortgage rates yet again slammed into all-time lows, with signs emerging that the economy may still need to improve and action from the Federal Reserve to keep a heel on interest rates until 2014. Finance Web site Bankrate.com and mortgage giant Freddie Mac offered up reports on interest rates for mortgage loans in two separate weekly surveys. The former found rates for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage falling to 4.12 percent, down from 4.25 percent last week, while the GSE said that it declined from 3.98 percent to 3.88 percent over the same time frame.

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Home Prices Fell 4.7% in 2011: CoreLogic

Home prices for transactions fell by 4.7 percent year-over-year in 2011, making last year the fifth straight one in which prices underwent declines, according to CoreLogic. The data and analytics provider released the latest figures Thursday in a home price index that also recorded year-over-year declines by 2 percent over November last year. Those with the steepest declines in home prices included Illinois, Nevada, Georgia, Ohio, and Minnesota, each by 11.3 percent, 10.6 percent, 8.3 percent, 7.7 percent, and 7.5 percent, respectively.

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Citigroup to Exit Mortgage Brokerage Channel

Citigroup joined a host of other financial institutions Wednesday by declaring that it plans to exit the mortgage brokerage business. A spokesperson said that the bank decided to depart from the brokerage channel in order to focus on the rest of the business, particularly mortgage origination in the correspondent and retail lending sectors. The move follows similar departures from around the mortgage origination and servicing sectors by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife, and Morgan Stanley last fall.

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Provident Expands Retail Mortgage Business

In California, Provident Financial Holdings, Inc., has announced its entry into retail originations. The company recently announced that it has hired a retail mortgage banking group to open loan production locations under the Provident Bank Mortgage banner throughout the northern region of the state.

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LPS Responds to Nevada AG’s Allegations

Lender Processing Services, Inc., has officially responded to the December complaint made by the Nevada Attorney General. In a company statement, LPS stated that it has filed a motion to dismiss, based on legal defects.

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Refi Applications High as Overall Volume Drops 2.9%: MBA

Mortgage application volume contracted by 2.9 percent from the week before, even while refinance volume continued to soar amid signs that more homeowners are seeking to take advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The Mortgage Bankers Association found in a weekly survey that mortgage loan application volume simultaneously went up 9 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The trade group├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Purchase Index climbed by 17.1 percent but remains 4.3 percent lower than figures seen during the same week last year.

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MDC’s Board Appoints New Financial Leader

In less than two weeks, M.D.C. Holdings, Inc., will welcome a new company officer, with the announcement that John M. Stephens will join MDC as the group's chief financial officer, principal accounting officer, and senior vice president. MDC's board of directors recently appointed Stephens to the leadership positions, and his new roles with MDC will become effective on February 13.

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