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Beige Book Finds Economy Expanding ‘Gradually’


The nation's economy expanded gradually from early July through mid-August, the Federal Reserve reported yesterday in its periodic Beige Book. The description of the economy, drawn from reports from each of the 12 Federal Reserve districts differed from the usual tone of Beige Books which have recently described economic growth as "modest" or "moderate." Six Districts, according to the Beige Books, "indicated the local economy continued to expand at a modest pace.

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Pending-Home Sales Index Recovers in July: NAR

In another positive sign for the housing sector, the Pending Home Sales Index rose 2.4 percent in July to 101.7, its highest level since April 2010, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Economists had expected a 1.0 percent increase to 100.3. The July increase more than reversed an unexpected 1.4 percent drop to 99.3 in June. The only negatives in recent reports were a slight drop in housing starts in July and drops in the median price for existing and new homes in July.

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GDP Growth Pegged at 1.7%, Up From Earlier Estimate

The U.S. economy grew in the second quarter at 1.7 percent, slightly faster than the originally estimated 1.5 percent, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Wednesday. At the same time BEA reported second quarter grew at a meager 0.5 percent from the first quarter, but an improvement from the 2.7 percent drop in corporate profits registered in the first quarter. Profits in the financial sector though fell more than 9 percent. The upward revision in second quarter GDP growth was in line with the forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

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Mortgage Rates Plummet Back to Historic Lows

Just when you thought they were on a rebound, mortgage rates once again fell precipitously this week, with the 30-year fixed-rate home loan slamming into 3.39 percent. Zillow reported the latest numbers on Tuesday. The real estate website found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipping from 3.5 percent to 3.4 percent earlier this week. Interest rates for the 15-year home loan averaged 2.76 percent, while those for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages hovered at 2.38 percent.

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FDIC-Backed Banks Rebound Over Second Quarter

As bank failures dwindle, FDIC-backed institutions continue to see their own coffers swell, with an agency report finding that banks with government guarantees earned $34.5 billion over the second quarter. And banks seemed to sweat a little less over the last quarter. The FDIC reported that banks with its seal of approval saw their year-over-year increases for the 12th straight quarter. Loan balances meanwhile ticked up by $102 billion, increasing for the fourth time in the last five quarters.

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After Resistance, GFI Mortgage Settles with DOJ

New York-based GFI Mortgage Bankers Inc. reached a $3.5 million settlement with the Justice Department regarding discriminatory lending practices Tuesday. The lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan federal court, alleged GFI priced ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£residential mortgage loans for qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher than for similarly qualified non-Hispanic white borrowers between 2005 and 2009. GFI admitted there were ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£significant disparities├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø between loans offered to minority borrowers.

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Michael Strahan Lists Hermosa Beach Home

Michael Strahan, one of the most memorable players to ever wear a New York Giants uniform, has listed his California estate for $1.849 million. The former defensive end and current football analyst for Fox is set to take a loss on the Hermosa Beach property, which he purchased for $2.2 million in 2005.

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Fairway Independent Mortgage Expanding in Georgia

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation is expanding its footprint, recently announcing the opening of a new office in the Southeast. The lender's latest location will be based in Pooler, Georgia, and Fairway's nationwide presence now encompasses 129 branches around the country.

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Real Housewife Puts Family Estate on the Market

Reality television star Camille Grammer, best known for her high-profile marriage and divorce with actor Kelsey Grammer, has put her Malibu, California, estate on the market for $17.9 million. The large home, which Realestalker.com dubs a family compound, sits on 4.77 acres, and the gated property includes equestrian facilities, a tennis court, swimming pool, lily pond, and two spas.

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Home Prices Show Strong Quarterly Gain: Case-Shiller

Home prices rose 6.9 percent in the second quarter, according to the Case-Shiller Index compiled by Standard & Poor's, the strongest quarter-over-quarter gain since the index began in 1987, S&P reported Tuesday. Separately, the monthly 10- and 20-city index rose 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent respectively in June, S&P said. The two indexes were up 0.1 percent and 0.5 percent respectively in the last year, the first year-year gains in the monthly measures since September (20-year) and October (10-year) 2010.

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