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Initial Unemployment Claims Drop But Remain Elevated

First time claims for unemployment insurance dipped to 370,000 for the week ended May 19 from the previous week├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós upwardly revised reading of 372,000 the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the report would show 371,000 initial claims. The Labor Department had initially reported 370,000 claims filed for the week ended May 12. The revision turned that report to an increase of 2,000 from a previously report that filings were unchanged week-to-week. Continuing claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô reported on a one-week lag ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô fell 29,000 to 3,260,000.

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Fewer Banks See Risk of Failure Over Fourth Straight Quarter

The number of financial institutions at risk of failure dropped for the fourth consecutive quarter, falling from 813 to 772. The FDIC reported Thursday that the decline signals the smallest number of problem banks since yearend 2009, with total assets waning from $319 billion to $292 billion. The much-weakened Deposit Insurance Fund saw its first-quarter net worth rise to $15.3 billion, up from $11.8 billion over the fourth quarter last year. Insured deposits grew by an estimated 0.7 percent over the first quarter.

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eLynx Examines the Borrowers’ Perspective on Lending

Seeking to provide industry insight into the borrowers' perspective when purchasing a mortgage, eLynx has revealed the findings from its recent panel discussion with lenders and customers. To conduct its survey, eLynx, a portfolio company of American Capital, assembled an advisory group that included both lending professionals and borrowers, tapping the participants for feedback on the initiatives that could improve the mortgage loan experience and reduce stress during the process.

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UWM Launches ‘Elite’ Program for Mortgage Brokers

Brokers will have a new resource to tap into, with the launch of United Wholesale Mortgage's Elite program. The mortgage lender will use the new product to offer broker's access to the best conventional rates and pricing in the industry, according to a company statement.

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Refi Boom Set to Fuel $200B More Originations in 2012

A surge in refinance applications could propel mortgage originations by more than $200 billion in 2012, increasing to $1.28 trillion, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group attributed estimates ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô upwardly revised from $1.26 trillion in 2011 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô to account for a refinance boom sparked by the crises in debt-saddled Europe. The MBA said that it expected refinance originations would amount to $870 billion this year, an amount nearly identical to forecasts from last year, when HARP led the way in estimates.

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California’s Greatest Obstacle Is Shrinking Inventory

Things are looking up in California. Pending-home sales are continuing to rise on an annual basis; median prices are rising; and equity sales are starting to make up a larger portion of total sales, according to the California Association of Realtors. However, despite the year-over-year gains, April's pending home sales demonstrated a decline from March. Pending-home sales include contract signings but not closings. The index is based on 2008 contract signings with an index score of 100 equaling the average amount of contracts signed per month in 2008. The pending-home sales index for March was revised to 138.9.

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TRF and Wolters Kluwer Announce Partnership

In Minnesota, Wolters Kluwer Financial Services has established an agreement with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF). The two entities will work together to integrate TRF;s PolicyMap application with Wolters Kluwer's software solutions for the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and fair lending compliance.

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Refinance Applications Spike as Investors Leave Europe: MBA

Investors fleeing Europe once more helped drive mortgage refinance applications to 3.8 percent this week, up from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA's Refinance Index climbed 5.6 percent from the week before, signaling a rise for the third consecutive week and helping reach highs not seen since February earlier this year. The four-week moving average ticked up by 4.83 for the index. The refinance share of mortgage activity leapt to 76.6 percent of total application volume.

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April New Home Sales Climb 3.3%, Beating Earlier Forecasts

New homes sales rose 3.3 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000, the Commerce Department and HUD said jointly Wednesday. Sales for March were revised upward from 328,000 to 332,000. Economists had expected the report to show a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 335,000 new home sales in April. New home sales in April were up 9.9 percent from April 2011, the seventh straight month of year-over-year increases. The increase came despite survey results that showed new home shoppers had fallen.

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