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Mortgage Rates Dip, Staying Aboard Rollercoaster

Higher gasoline prices and concerns about Chinese growth fed bond investments, driving down mortgage rates once again amid worrying signs about the economy. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac found rates for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage falling from 4.08 percent last week to 3.99 percent this week. The company said the 15-year loan fell from 3.30 percent last week to 3.23 percent this week, a change of pace from 4.09 percent seen year-over-year. Five-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages meanwhile slid from 2.96 percent and 2.84 percent to 2.90 percent and 2.78 percent, respectively.

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Fourth-Quarter GDP Growth Hovers Close to 3.0%

Real gross domestic product - the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States - increased at an annual rate of 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday, unchanged from the estimate issued a month ago, consistent with market expectations. In its initial report on fourth quarter GDP, the BEA had said the nation's economy grew at a 2.8 percent pace. The economic growth rate is the fastest in the past 18 months but only slightly above the fourth quarter of 2007 when the Great Recession began.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Drop To New Four-Year Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell 5,000 to 359,000 for the week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The previous week's report ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and all data reports back to 2007 - were revised to show a jump for mid-March to 364,000 instead of the originally reported 348,000. Even with the upward revisions, claims dipped to the lowest level since April 2008. Economists had expected initial claims would increase to 350,000. Data for the week ended mid-March covered the same "reference" week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its survey.

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Clouds May Lift for Housing, Economy by 2014: Survey

Housing lingered in the doldrums of a recovery last year but may pick up by 2014 as the U.S. economy generally improves, analysts and economists said Wednesday. The Urban Land Institute polled 38 real estate analysts and economists to signal their expectations for "broad improvements" in the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós economy and real estate markets in 2012. The survey revealed that transaction volume in commercial real estate markets could reach as much as $312 billion in 2014, up from a projected $250 billion in 2012. The news is welcome for an industry that has stayed under a cloud since the crisis.

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New Study Reveals Top 10 Cities for Financial Jobs

The U.S. job market has continued to make headlines during recent months as high unemployment numbers persist in many areas around the country. A study by Accounting Principals, an accounting and financial staffing firm, combined statistics gleaned from the company's internal data, as well as information on the nation's current volume of jobs openings and general economic conditions in the regions observed to establish which cities are likely to be most lucrative for job seekers in the finance field.

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HARP Shores Up Slowing Refinance Activity: MBA

A climb for mortgage rates last week cooled mortgage applications, leading overall volume to edge down by 2.7 percent. The Mortgage Bankers Association found in a weekly survey that the refinance share of mortgage activity also continued a six-week streak of declines, with a deflation from 73.4 percent of total applications to 71.9 percent last week. The Refinance Index accordingly ticked down by 4.6 percent from the week before, falling to the lowest figures since December last year. The MBA attributed the dip in a statement to a 12-percent decline in government refinance activity.

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Realtor Referrals Supply One-Third of Business for Lenders: Survey

Referrals from real estate agents guide about one-third of mortgage-financing decisions for today├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós homebuyers, according to a recent survey. Campbell Surveys and Inside Mortgage Finance polled about 1,800 Realtors in January to learn that agents recommended about 60 percent of the business for mortgage lenders. The survey inferred from the results that real estate agents influence or shape some 34 percent of mortgage-financed home purchases. Recommendations by many agents came about as a result of pre-existing relationships with lenders.

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Mortech Upgrades Lending Management Platform

Lenders utilizing the MarksmanLMP platform from Mortech, Inc., are set to gain an advantage when analyzing a borrower's credit score. The company recently announced that it would add a credit report solution to the technology module that will provide faster access to information on potential consumers.

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A Five Star Send-Off for FSI’s CEO

The Five Star Institute, parent company for MReport, is saying goodbye to friend and CEO Ed Delgado. Joining Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, Delgado will leave FSI to become the company's chief operating officer. Delgado boasts more than two decades of experience in the mortgage banking industry and was responsible for founding the company's Lender Leadership League while with FSI.

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Mortgage Rates Still Historically Low But Stable: Zillow

Mortgage rates continued to show signs of stability this week, with rates for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage largely repeating a series of bumpy but steady fluctuations. Real estate Web site Zillow fielded 3.88 percent for the 30-year loan, nine basis points down from 3.97 percent last week after a back-and-forth between 3.89 percent and 3.98 percent. The company said that rates for the 15-year loan averaged 3.1 percent this week, with those for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages not far behind at 2.72 percent.

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