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Consumer Spending Enters Sharp Slowdown in March

Consumer spending grew just 0.3 percent in March, down from the 0.9 percent growth in February, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Monday. Economists had expected spending to be up 0.4 percent. At the same time, personal income grew 0.4 percent in March, BEA said, slightly faster than February├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós 0.

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Twenty-Four Groups Call on CFPB to Make QM Rule Safer

Twenty-four trade groups and associations signed off on a comment letter Friday that calls on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to give creditors more legal leeway when it comes to Qualified Mortgages. The two-page letter ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô headed up by the American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Home Builders, and National Association of Realtors, among others ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô framed forthcoming rules around credit availability and sound home loans. Influential trade groups continue to criticize the rule.

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Appraisal Institute Responds to FinCEN Report

The Appraisal Institute has submitted its response to a recent report released by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The group's March 2012 Mortgage Loan Fraud Update showed that incidences of mortgage fraud rose by 20 percent year-over-year between the third-quarter of 2011 and the third-quarter of 2010. The group's March 2012 Mortgage Loan Fraud Update showed that incidences of mortgage fraud rose by 20 percent year-over-year between the third-quarter of 2011 and the third-quarter of 2010.

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Transwestern Hiring, Promoting in Midwest

Transwestern has announced the appointment of a new president for its Midwest region. The company recently named Mike Watts to the leadership role, and Watts will take over responsibilities for overall strategy, business development, recruitment, and financial performance for the region.

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MetLife Exits Reverse Originations, Selling Portfolio to Nationstar

Life insurer MetLife announced Thursday that it will exit the reverse mortgage origination business, with plans to sell the division responsible for these loans to Nationstar Mortgage LLC. It was not immediately clear how much Nationstar paid to buy the reverse mortgage portfolio from MetLife. The life insurer also said that it would cease receiving any new reverse mortgage loan applications and registrations. MetLife said that retail banking, including reverse mortgages, accounted for less than 2 percent of operating earnings for the company last year.

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First-Quarter GDP Growth Slows to 2.2% With Spending Drop

The U.S. economy grew at a disappointing 2.2 percent rate in the first quarter, the Labor Department reported Friday, down from the 3.0 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter and below expectations. Economists had expected GDP to grow at 2.5 percent in the first quarter. A drop in government spending was the biggest factor in the slowdown in growth. In dollar terms, GDP increased $73.4 billion, most of which was an increase in personal consumption - $68.1 billion.

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Mortgage Rates Hover Near Record Lows . . . Still

Debt crises in Europe once more left interest rates for mortgage loans near record lows. Finance Web site Bankrate.com found 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 4.09 percent, down from 4.10 percent last week, alongside a 15-year loan that hit 3.28 percent this week, down from 3.32 percent. Bankrate.com found said that 5-year and 1-year adjustable-rate mortgages meanwhile fell from 3.05 percent last week to 3.03 percent this week. News out of Britain this week found that the bulwark economy slipped into a double-dip recession during the first quarter.

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Budget Hearing Spotlights Concerns With FHA, GSEs

Talk of reform for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration featured prominently at a hearing convened by the Senate Banking Committee Thursday to address HUD├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós budget for the next fiscal year. The FHA has fallen under scrutiny in recent years over an inability to meet the 2 percent capital ratio buffer required by law. GSE also reform remains a dead issue this election year, despite numerous proposals for reform from lawmakers and public outcry over more than $180 billion in taxpayer funds sunken into conservatorship.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Dip But Remain Elevated

First time claims for unemployment insurance remained over 380,000 for the third straight week for the week ended April 21, the Labor Department reported Thursday, the highest levels of the year. According to the report there were 388,000 initial claims, down from the revised 389,000 one week earlier.

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PNC Financial Elects New President

PNC Financial Services Group has announced the appointment of William S. Demchak as the company's president of the corporation. The board of directors elected Demchak, who will also serve as PNC's president for its principal banking subsidiary, PNC Bank.

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