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SEC Rolls Out New Legal Tactics Targeting Civil Suits

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced a new game plan when it comes to targeting companies and individuals under fire for allegations stemming from the mortgage meltdown. The SEC will now update enforcement procedures; moving away from difficult to prove filings that are geared to prove purposeful wrongdoing, recklessness, or fraud, the SEC will reduce its burden with civil cases that require only proof of negligence. The SEC has utilized similar tactics as as supplement to more intensive accusations.

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Freddie: Plunging Mortgage Rates Smash New Records

Mortgage rates again smashed records Thursday by falling to new lows as investors continued to flee Europe, buying up safer U.S. Treasury debt, keeping interest rates low, and setting up all-time highs for housing affordability. Finance Web site Bankrate.com differed by posting slight upticks for the benchmark 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. According to the GSE, rates for the 30-year loan collapsed to 4.01 percent, while Bankrate.com duly noted a rise in interest rates for the 30-year loan to 4.30 percent.

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Pending-Home Sales Dip by 1.2% Over August

Alongside somewhat stable home prices, pending-home sales slid back over August with a few regions inching up over others, according to an index recently compiled by the National Association of Realtors. Even so, the numbers reflect a better balance sheet for lenders and sellers, who bore the brunt of sales much worse for the wear over the same period last year. The trade group found the numbers for pending-home sales plunging by 1.2 percent to hit 88.6 percent in August, down from 89.7 percent over the month before.

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Basel Committee Carrys Out Rules Despite Criticism

New regulations targeting capital requirements are challenging big banks in the U.S. and abroad. While large American financial institutions have been grappling with more strenuous capital rules since the Dodd-Frank Act was released, European banks are set to experience similar adaptations with the news that The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision chose to ignore stringent lobbying, in favor of mandating extended capital funding for mega banks. The committee moved forward with capital surcharges from 1 to 2.5 percent for the biggest banks worldwide.

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SEC Puts S&P on Notice

Standard & Poor's is coming under heavy scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission for it alleged misconduct in handling valuations for a $1.6 billion mortgage-bond deal. Regulators for the SEC are focusing on the company's possible exploitation of fictitious assets when rating the transaction in question. The bond deal became a debacle during the financial crisis, and this week, S&P's parent company, McGraw-Hill Cos., received notice from the SEC that it could be facing civil charges related to its potentially fraudulent actions.

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Prudential Initiates Second Large Multi-Family Deal

The specialized lending arm of Prudential Mortgage Capital Company, which targets Federal Housing Administration-based loans, recently announced the closing of a $77.2 million deal on the FHA's behalf. Prudential Huntoon Paige (PHP), the official moniker of Prudential├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós FHA-focused division, purchased the loan to refinance a multi-family development in Upland, California.

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Applications, Refis on the Rise According to Weekly Index

The weekly mortgage applications numbers are in, and current data shows an increase nationally. The Mortgage Bankers Association's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ended September 23 demonstrated a 9.3 percent rise in mortgage loan application volume on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the Market Composite Index contained within the report. The Purchase Index rose 2.6 percent this week on a seasonally-adjusted basis and showed a 0.1 percent hike year-over-year.

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BAC Under Extended Investigation by Hagens Berman

Bank of America Corp. will continue to be under investigation, following a recent filing that alleges the big bank failed to properly inform investors as to risk factors associated with a pending lawsuit from American International Group. Hagens Berman announced that it will advance its look into BAC's investor dealings surrounding the bank's legal issues with AIG. BAC shares dropped significantly in the wake of the AIG filing, and it's estimated that the full damages equate to around 20 percent per share.

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