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Tag Archives: Federal Reserve

Economy Grows at ‘Modest to Moderate’ Pace with ‘Cautious Optimism’

Fed

Sentiment is "cautiously optimistic" surrounding the future of the nation's economy, although the federal government shutdown was cause for some concern, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book released Wednesday. Revealing economic conditions in each of the Federal Reserve's 12 districts, the report found "modest to moderate" economic expansion over the reporting period from August 27 through October 7. Reports of the housing market were generally positive, with most markets growing--or at least not faltering.

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SunTrust Squares Up Legacy Issues with GSEs, Federal Agencies

SunTrust announced Thursday that it has taken further steps to clear up its mortgage problems with the government and with the GSEs. On top of an agreement reached with Freddie Mac at the end of September, SunTrust has settled with HUD, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Reserve for allegedly unsound practices with respect to its servicing and origination operations. The Atlanta-based lender estimates its third-quarter earnings will take a $179 million hit as a result.

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Mortgage Rates Plunge to Lowest Levels in Months

According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 4.32 percent (0.7 point) for the week ending September 26, down to the lowest level since the week ending July 25. A year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.40 percent. Declines were just as drastic in Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The site reported a drop of nearly 20 basis points for the 30-year fixed, which ended the week at 4.47 percent.

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Initial Unemployment Claims Continue to Drop

Unemployment

Continuing the drop in first-time claims for unemployment insurance, initial filings fell 5,000 for the week ending September 21 to 305,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists had expected the number of claims to jump up to 330,000 from the 309,000 originally reported for the week ending September 14. The number of filings for that week was revised up to 310,000.

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Household Net Worth Growth Slows in Second Quarter

Fed

Household net worth improved $1.3 trillion in the second quarter--half as fast as the first quarter--as real estate values grew $626.7 billion, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday in its quarterly Flow of Funds report. But, with a drop in mortgage debt--including home equity loans and lines of credit--from $9.39 trillion in the first quarter to $9.34 billion in the second--homeowner equity grew to 49.8 percent in the second quarter from 48.1 percent in the first.

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FOMC Votes No Change in Policy, Foresees Slower Growth

Fed

While noting improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions, the Federal Open Market Committee voted Wednesday to continue its policy of near-zero interest rates and its $85-billion-per-month bond-buying program. At the same time, the Federal Reserve's own economic projections suggested the economy might not grow this year as fast as it expected just three months ago.

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Consumer Sentiment Weakens in Preliminary September Report

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment fell to a five-month low of 76.8 in September's preliminary report, spelling a potentially weak third quarter for consumption growth. The decline in overall sentiment was largely due to a drop in the Expectations Index, which measures consumer confidence for the next six months. That index fell to an eight-month low of 67.2. Meanwhile, the Current Conditions Index fell to 91.8.

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Initial Jobless Claims At 7 1/2-Year Low

Unemployment

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending September 7 plunged 31,000 to 292,000, the lowest level since March 2006, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to edge up to 330,000 from the 323,000 originally reported for the week ending August 31. The number of filings for that week was unchanged.

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