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Initial Jobless Claims Up, Less than Expected

First time claims for unemployment insurance rose 8,000 for the week ended July 28 to 365,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 370,000 initial claims. The prior week├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós total was revised up to 357,000 from the originally reported 353,000. Continuing claims ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô reported on a one-week lag ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô fell 19,000 to 3,272,000 from the prior week's 3,291,000, revised from the originally reported 3,297,000. The numbers reflected a slightly stronger labor picture after a volatile few weeks.

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Federal Open Market Committee Holds Off on Any Stimulus


Acknowledging economic activity decelerated somewhat over the first half of this year and growth in employment has been slow in recent months, the Federal Open Market Committee nonetheless decided Wednesday to take no new actions to stimulate growth. Concluding a two-day meeting the FOMC instead said it would maintain its low interest rate policy and continue previously announced programs to reinvest proceeds of maturing Treasury securities it already holds and extend the average maturity of its portfolio.

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Freddie: 81% of Q2 Refis Upheld or Slashed Debt

Freddie Mac released the results of its second quarter refinance analysis Wednesday, revealing that homeowners who refinance continue to strengthen their housing situations. Freddie Mac's report showed that 81 percent of homeowners who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage either maintained the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance in the year's second quarter. Of these borrowers, 59 percent maintained about the same loan amount (the highest share ever recorded), while 23 percent reduced their principal balance.

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DeMarco Nets Criticism, Praise for Principal Reductions Decision

In a long-running debate, Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, stated again this week that he does not support principal reductions and does not endorse their use at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. After stating his position, he immediately faced criticism and opposition from a broad spectrum of individuals, especially throughout the government. However, DeMarco's decision received a few words of praise as well. Industry insiders and pundits reacted to the decision on Monday and Tuesday.

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Refinance Applications Rise Highest Since January


Mortgage applications went up 0.2 percent last week as refinance volume rallied at levels not seen for the past several years. The Mortgage Bankers Association found the refinance share of mortgage activity ticking up to 81 percent of total application volume, the highest since January this year, while the Refinance Index climbed 0.8 percent to its highest level since April 2009. The increase in refinance activity also saw a 6 percent decline in government refinance applications. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity declined to 4.1 percent of total volume.

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Prospect Mortgage Announces Massachusetts Expansion

Prospect Mortgage has appointed a new leader for its expanding operations in Massachusetts. The company recently announced Jeff Kobold as branch manager for Prospect's Orleans location. Kobold, who has more than a decade of lending experience, will head up the opening and operations for Prospect's Orleans office. Additionally, Kobold will take on responsibilities for the company's existing branch in Osterville, as well as other soon to open Cape Cod-area locations.

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Avison Young Boosting Georgia-Based Operations

Canada-based Avison Young is bolstering the company's brokerage operations in Atlanta, Georgia. The commercial real estate firm recently hired Sean Moynihan to represent the organization throughout the Southeast U.S. Joining Avison Young as a principal, Moynihan will be responsible for developing strategies for real estate expense management and assisting with long-term planning to mitigate risk.

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TSAHC Expands Down Payment Assistance Programs

The Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC) has announced the expansion of its initiatives for low and moderate income homebuyers. TSAHC will now extend its down payment assistance programs to current homeowners and those who have previously owned a home.

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Former Washington Wizards Star Lists East Coast Party Pad

Controversial hoops star Gilbert Arenas recently listed his Great Falls, Virginia, party pad for $3.5 million. According to Curbed, Arenas' estate features over-the-top amenities including a shark tank, outdoor grotto, suede covered walls, and one of the "largest private pools you will ever see."

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Freddie Mac to Align Refi Program With LTV Needs


Freddie Mac announced Tuesday its plans to expand on its Relief Refinance Mortgage Program by aligning separate mortgage requirements. The GSE announced that it will align requirements for mortgages with loan-to-value ratios that are equal to or less than 80 percent with those for mortgages with LTV ratios greater than 80 percent. The alignment is expected to eliminate many of the lender├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós selling representation and warranty responsibilities on loans being refinanced. Details are scheduled to be announced to lenders by mid-September.

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