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Report from Equifax, Moody’s Shows Uptick in Originations

Recently released findings from Equifax's March National Consumer Credit Trends Report and CreditForecast.com revealed that originations are on the uptick, with notable increases in the sub-prime segment across all lending sectors. The survey, which evaluated activity for credit cards, auto finance, consumer finance, and student loans, showed that home financing balances fell to $8.7 billion during February. Total consumer debt in the U.S. stood at $11 trillion for February, representing an 11 percent drop since highs seen in the fourth-quarter of 2008.

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Michigan Bank Goes Under, Raising 2012 Tally to 16

Another bank fell quiet in Michigan Friday, lifting the national tally to 16 this year but falling short of the pace set by bank failures over the last several years. State regulators shuttered Dearborn-based Fidelity Bank, citing unsafe and unsound conditions in an order that made the FDIC receiver for $818.2 million in total assets and $747.6 million in total deposits. The Huntington National Bank stepped up to assume nearly all of Fidelity├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós assets, along with 15 branches that it rebranded and reopened Saturday.

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Mortgage Insurance Companies Wrote $5.4B in February

Mortgage insurance companies wrote $5.4 billion new pools of risk in February, a shift from $5 billion last month. Mortgage Insurance Companies of America revealed Friday that the latest figures reflect a climb up from $4.2 billion. The companies included Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corp., Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp., and Radian Guaranty Inc. MICA members said that their certificates reached 24,879 borrowers with intentions to buy or refinance their homes last month. Insurance-in-force for the companies roughly amounted to $398 billion for February.

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Experts: GSE Reform Unlikely Until After 2012 Election

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac entered federal conservatorship in 2008, as lawmakers and presidents stepped in to stymie a freefall for the nation├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós largest mortgage companies, just as words like subprime and systemically important institutions gained traction for the public. Four years and roughly $180 billion in taxpayer funds later, old hands, regulators, and freshman lawmakers alike struggle with a vexing riddle. How can a system polarized by politics safely shrink companies responsible for more than $11 trillion in mortgages without blowing the recovery ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and what will it mean for mortgage finance?

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Spending Growth Outpaces Income in February

Consumer spending grew 0.8 percent in February, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday, fueling expectations for a stronger first quarter economic surge than economists have forecast. Personal spending grew faster than the 0.6 percent market consensus. Personal income, BEA reported, grew just 0.2 percent in February, half the rate of growth expected by economists. In dollars, spending increased $86.0 billion in February while income ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô from all sources ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô grew $28.2 billion. Spending for the first two months of the quarter averaged $10.9 billion.

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CFPB Files Brief to Defend TILA Rights for Homeowners

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau threw its weight into the courtroom recently by filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the tenth circuit. The issue at stake: Whether homeowners can cancel their loans within a three-year period stipulated under the Truth-in-Lending Act ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and whether a plaintiff need sue within the same timeframe before the right of rescission expires. The case in Denver involves one Jean Rosenfield, who sued for an injunction against servicer HSBC in 2009 when an earlier notice of rescission went unnoticed by the servicer and lender.

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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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