October 2013

Fed Stimulus Set to Continue

Citing weak economic growth and a slowdown in housing, the Federal Reserve agreed this week to maintain the pace of its stimulus program. The Fed will continue buying $85 billion a month in treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities through November.

Many economists expected the Fed to begin reducing its purchases, or “tapering,” back in September, but the Fed decided it wanted to see further signs of economic improvement before winding down the program. That view appears not to have changed. 

Case-Shiller Home Price Index Shows Largest Increase In Seven Years

The closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller home price index climbed 0.93 percent in August, higher than expected. Year-over-year home prices were up a scorching 12.82 percent nationally, the largest annual gain since the housing bubble.

“All 20 cities reported positive year-over-year returns. Thirteen cities posted double-digit annual gains. Las Vegas and California continue to impress with year-over-year increases of over 20 percent,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P.

Cancelled Health Insurance Policies Put Spotlight on Democrats

The rocky Obamacare rollout got even rockier this week, as thousands of Americans continued to receive cancellation notices from their existing health care providers. What’s worse, a newly-discovered IRS document written in 2010 predicted just this scenario – that many Americans would be dropped by their insurers as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act.

Dental Coverage in Obamacare? Yes and It's Easy to Get!

Now that the furor in Washington over Obamacare has subsided, at least for the time being, Americans are starting to take a closer look at just what the new law entails. Dental insurance is an important component of the Affordable Care Act that rarely gets talked about, but it’s there – and Virginia resident Sarah Bedard Holland wants you to know about it.

Florida Auto Insurance Reforms Get Green Light

Two weeks ago we covered the ongoing battle over Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system. Florida lawmakers say the current system is rife with fraud and passed a package of reforms to limit no-fault claims, but the legislation was halted in March by a circuit court injunction. Last week that injunction was overturned by an appeals court, allowing the reforms to go ahead.

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, who strongly favors the reforms, praised the ruling.

Weekly Round-Up: October 26

Key stories from the week that was.

Stock markets rallied this week, while mortgage rates continued to fall. The S&P 500 index set a record high on hopes the Federal Reserve will maintain stimulus well into 2014.

Mortgage rates fell to their lowest level since June 20, which should bode well for the housing recovery. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage from Freddie Mac fell to 4.13 percent, down from last week’s 4.28 percent.

Yellen Nomination On Hold?

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is threatening to put a hold on the nomination of Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve. Paul, a staunch advocate for greater transparency at the Fed, said he will stall the nomination unless the Senate puts a bill he is sponsoring to a vote.

Large Mortgages to Continue at Fannie and Freddie – For Now

Federal regulators overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they will allow the mortgage giants to continue funding higher-priced loans into next year. The Thursday decision surprised many industry observers, who had expected the government to shrink Fannie and Freddie’s footprint in the mortgage market as soon as next month.

Housing Intact? Mortgage Applications Dip

The number of Americans applying for a mortgage continued to trend lower last week, despite falling interest rates and the end of the government shutdown.

Applications for mortgages fell 0.6 percent week-over-week, while refis dropped by 1 percent, according to the latest report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

September Jobs Report Weaker Than Expected

The September jobs report was released this morning, after being delayed nearly three weeks due to the government shutdown. The U.S. economy added just 148,000 jobs for the month, lower than many economists had forecast. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent as more Americans dropped out of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“This kind of report adds to the sense of foreboding about our economy,” said Claire McKenna, an analyst at the National Employment Law Project.