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Origination

Mortgage Rates Hover Near Record Lows . . . Still

Debt crises in Europe once more left interest rates for mortgage loans near record lows. Finance Web site Bankrate.com found 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 4.09 percent, down from 4.10 percent last week, alongside a 15-year loan that hit 3.28 percent this week, down from 3.32 percent. Bankrate.com found said that 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages meanwhile fell from 3.05 percent last week to 3.03 percent this week. News out of Britain this week found that the bulwark economy slipped into a double-dip recession during the first quarter.

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Budget Hearing Spotlights Concerns With FHA, GSEs

Talk of reform for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration featured prominently at a hearing convened by the Senate Banking Committee Thursday to address HUD├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós budget for the next fiscal year. The FHA has fallen under scrutiny in recent years over an inability to meet the 2 percent capital ratio buffer required by law. GSE also reform remains a dead issue this election year, despite numerous proposals for reform from lawmakers and public outcry over more than $180 billion in taxpayer funds sunken into conservatorship.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Dip But Remain Elevated

First time claims for unemployment insurance remained over 380,000 for the third straight week for the week ended April 21, the Labor Department reported Thursday, the highest levels of the year. According to the report there were 388,000 initial claims, down from the revised 389,000 one week earlier.

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PNC Financial Elects New President

PNC Financial Services Group has announced the appointment of William S. Demchak as the company's president of the corporation. The board of directors elected Demchak, who will also serve as PNC's president for its principal banking subsidiary, PNC Bank.

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Senate Hearing Fields Praise, Criticisms About New HARP

Lawmakers seated on the Senate Banking Committee convened a hearing Wednesday to determine just how radically draft legislation should lift barriers to refinance opportunities for homeowners and lenders. The message from those testifying: More refinance modifications would help, but beware of the impact for investors and lenders. The Obama administration moved on expansions to HARP last fall by working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency to sign off on lower loan-to-value ratio requirements and remove obstacles for lenders and servicers.

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Pending-Home Sales Leap Ahead in March: NAR

The Pending Home Sales Index rose sharply in March to 101.4 from February's revised 97.4, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Economists had expected the Index to increase 1.0 percent from February. The index is now at the highest level since April 2010 when it reached 111.3. The index improved for the third straight month and fifth time in the last six month. The March reading is up 12.8 percent from March 2011, the strongest year-over-year gain since last July. The PHSI has been drifting upward, albeit modestly for most of the past two years.

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FDIC: Bank Failure Fund on Track to Good Health by 2018

The FDIC projects that it will replenish the hard-hit Deposit Insurance Fund on schedule, as fewer community banks fail and the economic recovery turns a corner. The agency made the projections in a semi-annual update Tuesday that also found so-called Problem Institutions falling from 844 in September last year to 813 by the fourth quarter. Requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act require that the FDIC shore up the fund by 1.35 percent by 2020. The FDIC said that the fund ended last year at $11.8 billion ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the equivalent of a shift to 0.17 percent for the reserve ratio.

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Mortgage Applications Fell 3.8% Last Week: MBA

application

Mortgage applications fell 3.8 percent from the week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group found that application volume waned by 3.3 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis from the week before. Purchases went up 2.7 percent from one week earlier, climbing by a seasonally unadjusted 3.6 percent in the same vein. Refinance applications declined on the whole. The Refinance Index dipped by 5.6 percent from the week before, as conventional refis slipped by 6.1 percent and government refis climbed down by 2.1 percent.

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Exclusive: Meet the Man Behind the $25B Servicer Settlement

Parties to the landmark mortgage servicing settlement in February appointed one man to oversee $25 billion in compliance. In an interview with DS News, our sister publication, Joseph A. Smith, onetime banking commissioner for North Carolina and ex-nominee for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, lays out the role he envisions playing as he monitors funds for homeowners, states, and the federal government. The settlement monitor speaks with an understated tone about his stewardship of the historic settlement, which 49 state attorneys general and federal officials completed in February.

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