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Declining Initial Unemployment Claims Reverse Trends

First time claims for unemployment insurance fell 14,000 in the week ended March 9, according to the Labor Department. In a Thursday report, the bureau noted that the decline represents the first drop in four weeks. Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, also fell, dropping 81,000 to 3,343,000, after two second straight weekly increases. The four week moving average for initial claims was flat at 355,750, unchanged from the previous week while the four week average for continuing claims declined 25,250 to 3,394,250.

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Bank’s Acquisition Leads to Single Largest Conversion

PNC Financial Services Group completed the acquisition of RBC Bank, reopening more than 400 branches across six Southeastern states as PNC banks. At 415 branches, this was PNC's single largest conversion occurring at one time. Former RBC branches were in business March 5 as PNC Banks in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The conversation also involved the transition of 900,000 customers. The Pittsburgh-based bank now has 2,900 locations across 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to a company release.

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Chase Becomes First Bank to Settle Veteran Fraud Case

JPMorgan Chase has finalized a deal that puts an end to mortgage fraud allegations that created critical headlines for the bank. The company announced on Tuesday that it has reached a settlement in a lawsuit that accused Chase of refinancing fraud against military veterans and taxpayers. In total, Chase will pay the federal government $45 million to conclude the legal issue, which sought to bring the bank to justice for hiding illegal fees within home mortgage refinancing transactions for veterans.

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Zillow: Statistics Show Upticks Across Lending Sector

Economic releases in recent days have signaled positive movement, albeit gradual, toward a strengthening economy. The rosier outlook has led mortgage interest rates higher. The 30-year fixed-mortgage rate on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace came in at 3.74 percent, up five basis points from 3.69 percent at the same time last week. Rates for a 15-year fixed mortgage, as well as adjustable-rate mortgages, also rose. Experts say conditions are primed for mortgage rates to continue to rise in the coming weeks and months.

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Standard & Poor’s: Has the Housing Market Hit Bottom?

Standard & Poor's Tuesday Webinar provided insight into a key industry question - "Is the housing market bottoming out?" The broad inquiry served as the title for S&P's web-based presentation, which included contributing analysts Beth Ann Bovino, Erkan Erturk, and Valerie White. Offering their take on the current state of U.S. real estate, the participants discussed home pricing, the return of the private-label securitization market, not-for-profit housing, corporate homebuilders, and the nation's housing agencies.

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New Lending Partnership for National Builder

National homebuilder KB Home is partnering with Nationstar Mortgage to offer financing on its homes. KB Home announced Nationstar as its preferred mortgage lender this week, noting, "The agreement with Nationstar is intended to offer KB Home customers a seamless home buying experience, from purchase and mortgage application to picking up the keys to their new home." Nationstar's broad national presence was a major catalyst behind the establishment of the partnership with the homebuilder.

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Canadians Initiate NYC Real Estate Investment Expansion

Canadian real estate investment company Timbercreek Asset Management is expanding its global focus stateside, with the launch of the company's New York City location. Timbercreek manages approximately $2 billion in assets through its private and publicly-traded real estate-focused funds, and the company's New York launch follows the opening of Timbercreek offices in Switzerland. Leading Timbercreek's push into new markets are three former employees of Citigroup's real estate unit.

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