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Mortgage Rates Lift Above 4% for First Time Since October

Mortgage rates climbed above 4 percent this week, marking a departure from persistently low interest rates for the first time in five months as economic distress lifts stateside and Greece clears hurdles. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.08 percent, up from 3.92 percent last week but far below last year├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós 4.81 percent. Freddie saw the 15-year loan averaging 3.30 percent, reflecting a climb from 3.16 percent last week, with rates for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages likewise ticking up.

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CoreLogic’s Directorship Initiative Delays Stockholder Meeting

Prompting the delay of the company's annual meeting, CoreLogic has announced its intention to add new, independent members to its board of directors. The decision represents the continuation of CoreLogic's initiative to bolster its board, which the company previously put on hold in order to conduct a strategic review process. Giving the company's nominating and corporate governance committee sufficient time to consider the potential additions to the board, CoreLogic will postpone its annual stockholders meeting until the summer of 2012.

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Expect Home Prices to Fall Further in 2012: Zillow

Economists redrew their expectations for home prices for 2012, slashing forecasts from 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent. Real estate Web site Zillow.com partnered with Pulsenomics LLC to project prices in a Home Price Expectations Survey it released earlier Wednesday. More than 100 economists and real estate experts said in their survey responses, with the more optimistic saying that prices could lift 1.4 percent next year, down from 1.8 percent. Drawing on a Standard & Poor├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós/Case-Shiller Index, Zillow projected that home prices would climb by 1.39 percent next year.

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Refinance Activity Wanes as Applications Fall 7.4%: MBA

Renewed hope for Europe and the U.S. economy helped interest rates reach their highest peak since December and drove down mortgage applications by 7.4 percent last week. The Mortgage Bankers Association found in a weekly survey that application volume declined by 7.1 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis from the week earlier. The refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 73.4 percent of total volume, the lowest figure since July last year. The Refinance Index saw declines by 9.3 percent and 4.31 percent for the four-week moving average, respectively.

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Washington Mutual Finalizes Chapter 11 Proceedings

On the West Coast, Washington Mutual, Inc., has finalized the company's Chapter 11 restructuring process. The financial institution announced the completion of its proceedings under Seventh Amended Joint Plan of Affiliated Debtors Pursuant to Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which became effective on March 19. Under the plan, WMI will begin the distribution of an estimated $7 billion in funds to parties-in-interest as related to their allowed claims. WMI will move forward with the distribution of substantially all of the stock.

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Standard and Poor’s Announces SPIVA Award Winners

Standard and Poor's has revealed the inaugural winners of its recently launched SPIVA Awards program. The new initiative is granted by S&P Indices, and the organization plans to extend the awards, which honor excellence in research on the topic of index-related applications, on an annual basis. This year's first place SPIVA Award recipients are Yuliya Plyakha, Grigory Vilkov and Raman Uppal, and the team of researchers was selected for the $50,000 prize based on their comprehensive, comparative evaluation of equal-weighted portfolios and value-and-price weighted portfolios within Standard and Poor's Indices.

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Mortgage Rates Climb as Economy, Europe Improve

Good news about the economy and better results in Greece helped reverse declines for still-low mortgage rates for the first time in five months, according to Zillow. The real estate Web site delivered a Mortgage Marketplace report that fielded 3.97 percent for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, up 23 basis points from 3.74 percent last week. The interest rate for a 15-year loan climbed to 3.16 percent, just as rates for 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages hovered near 2.85 percent. Interest rates for mortgage loans stayed near record lows as a result of the ongoing debt crisis in Europe.

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GOP Budget Calls for End to GSEs, Dodd-Frank

The House Budget Committee unveiled a budget plan for the next fiscal year that proposes raising guarantee fees for the GSEs and dismantling the Dodd-Frank Act. Committee chair Rep. Paul Ryan billed the so-called Path to Prosperity as a measure that will slash $6.2 trillion in government expenditures over the next decade and draw down the deficit by more than $4.4 trillion in contrast with President Barack Obama├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós budget. House Republicans proposed raising guarantee fees, downsizing portfolios for the GSEs, and eventually leaving housing finance to only the Federal Housing Administration.

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Single-Family Starts Plunge, Permits Increase in February

Housing starts fell 1.1 percent in February to 698,000, compared with market expectations for a smaller decline, the Census Bureau and HUD jointly reported Tuesday. Single-family starts plunged 9.9 percent to 457,000, the steepest decline in a year, according to the agencies. The starts suggest strongly January's unexpectedly strong report was influenced by unseasonably warm weather, which pulled starts forward. Single-family starts have been weak for the past three years. Housing permits, unaffected by weather, rose 5.1 percent in February.

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