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Inside Washington (12/10/2010)
* WASHINGTON (12/13/10)--Mortgage rates jumped to a five-month high in the U.S., moving in step with bond yields as President Barack Obama sought to extend tax cuts (Bloomberg Dec. 9). The average for a fixed-rate mortgage for the week ending Dec. 9 increased to 4.61% from 4.46%, the fourth straight week Freddie Mac reported increases in fixed rates. The average 15-year rate jumped to 3.96% from 3.81%. President Obama’s agreement to extend tax cuts caused yields on mortgage-bond securities to reach six-month highs last week amid speculation that the budget deficit would increase and inflation accelerate. The surge in rates is a blow to consumers who looked to refinance at record-low rates. Mortgage application volume fell 0.9% for the week ended Dec. 3, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported. The drop of 16.5% the previous week was the largest decrease in a year. The association’s refinancing gauge declined 1.4% in its most recent report; new purchases increased 1.8% … * WASHINGTON (12/13/10)--Joseph Smith appears likely to be confirmed by the Senate as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The North Carolina banking commissioner faced little opposition during his Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing Thursday (American Banker Dec. 10). Smith, who would oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as FHFA director, vowed to run the government-sponsored mortgage giants independently and said that their current conservatorship status was not a long-term solution for taxpayers. Both outgoing Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and incoming Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) praised Smith and indicated his nomination would be approved by the panel and the full Senate next week. The FHFA also oversees the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. Smith said the FHLBs would receive his “full attention” … * WASHINGTON (12/13/10)--A video webcast of the Dec. 9 Senate Banking Committee hearing, featuring National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz, is now available for viewing online. For The State of the Credit Union Industry, use the link.


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