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Poll: Voters Overwhelmingly Favor Financial Reform

Lake Research Partners released the results of an opinion poll showing that financial reforms enacted in recent years remain popular with potential voters. In light of events leading to 2008's financial meltdown, potential voters seem to overwhelmingly favor financial reform laws designed to prevent abuse. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents favor the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, while only 20 percent expressed disagreement. The support for Dodd-Frank crosses party lines.

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June Housing Starts Rise to Highest Level Since 2008

Housing starts in June soared to their highest level since October 2008, surging 6.9 percent to 760,000, the Census Bureau and HUD reported jointly Wednesday. Housing permits dropped 3.7 percent to 755,000 giving back half of May's gain. At the same time, permits for May were revised up to 784,000 from the originally reported 780,000 and housing starts were revised up for both April and May, to 747,000 and 711,000 respectively from 744,000 and 708,000. Total housing completions in June rose to 622,000.

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RE/MAX: Prices Show Housing Recovery Is ‘Real’

Rising home prices and sales signal that the housing recovery may finally be underway, according to RE/MAX. The real estate company released a housing report Tuesday that found closed transactions up 2.1 percent from May and 5 percent from June year-over-year. These figures made June the twelfth straight month for higher transactions. Of 53 metro areas surveyed by the company, 31 offered up increases for both sales and prices. Available homes for sale fell 5 percent from May and 27.4 percent from June last year.

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Will Underwater Homeowners Lead to Higher Prices?

Underwater homeowners are contributing to a lower inventory of houses for sale on the market, but according to Capital Economics negative equity will not have a major impact on housing prices. Regardless of the impact of negative equity, both Capital Economics and the National Association of Realtors foresee rising prices in the near future. The percentage of underwater homeowners is falling but remains elevated. CoreLogic said that 11.4 million homeowners were underwater in the first quarter.

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Homebuilder Confidence Soars to Five-Year High in July

Builder confidence jumped six points in July to its highest level since March 2007, the National Association of Home Builders reported Tuesday. Economists had expected a modest one point increase in July. The six-point gain to 35 was the largest month-month gain since September 2002 when the confidence gauge rose eight points. The increase in the index was driven by a sharp gain in the outlook for sales six months out which rose 11 points in July to 44, the highest level since April 2007. The index is up 23 points since July 2011.

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Hamilton’s Index Shows Strength in Financial Sector

Releasing its semi-annual index, Hamilton Place Strategies and the Partnership for a Secure Financial Future found that the safety and soundness of the nation's financial services industry is improving. The most recent Hamilton Financial Index showed a value of 1.22, which is 22 percent higher than the "historical norm." Based on data through the first quarter of 2012, the HFI is up seven points from February's findings. According to Hamilton's statistics, current totals represent a significant increase over the index's low point of 0.46.

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X Factor Winner Re-Lists Hollywood Home for $2.5M

Showing fortitude as a previous winner of Britain's X Factor, Leona Lewis is displaying bravery once again, recently deciding to re-list her Los Angeles home. Jumping back into the city's choppy real estate market, Lewis has put her Nichols Canyon property back on the market for its original asking price of $2.5 million.

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Home Prices Benefit From ‘Strong Spring’: LPS

Lender Processing Services, Inc.'s Applied Analytics division released its updated home price index, showing that although prices fell year-over-year, the HPI increase from this year's low has been the most significant jump up in years. The company├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós recent HPI is an update from an earlier release to reflect residential sales concluded during April 2012. The index showed that home price values fell 0.1 percent from April 2011 to April 2012 ($201,000 to $200,000). However, price index values rose from January's low ($195,000) at a pace not seen in more than half a decade.

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Citigroup Reports Earnings, Income Declines in Q2

Citigroup reported a net income of $2.9 billion, $0.95 per share, during the second quarter of this year, down 12 percent from the second quarter of last year, according to its earnings report released Monday. The bank├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós revenues totaled $18.6 billion in the second quarter, a 10 percent decline from last year. According to Citigroup, the decline in earnings is largely the result of the ongoing process of winding down Citi Holdings, a division opened in 2009 to house assets and businesses the bank hopes to unload.

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