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Markets opened higher on Monday and appeared steady throughout the morning, with all three indexes hitting intraday highs for the year. But at 2pm investors began to snatch profits, driving prices below opening levels. The final 90 minutes saw stocks rebound into the black, but they failed to match earlier levels.

The Dow closed 0.21% up at a new 12-month high of 9,885.80. That’s 20 points higher than Friday’s close, but earlier in the day it was at 9,909.60. The S&P 500 also climbed to a 12-month high as it moved up 0.44% to 1,076.18. The last hour rally in the Nasdaq was too w
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eak to break into positive territory; it closed down 0.01% at 2,139.14.
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The U.S. Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development announced on Thursday that a goal of 500,000 loan modifications has been reached nearly a month ahead of schedule....(read more)
The Congressional Oversight Panel charged with keeping an eye on TARP expenditures has released a report that questions the effectiveness of the HAMP loan modification program established by Treasury. The concern extends beyond the start-up phase to the future of the program....(read more)
After slipping for two weeks, equities opened the fourth quarter with the best week over week rally since July.

The Dow closed above the 12-month high at 9,864 as it jumped 4% since last Friday. Shares in the S&P easily wiped away late September losses, closing at 1,071, 4.5% on the week, and similar moves pushed the NASDAQ to 2,139, up 4.50% for the week....(read more)
President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize this morning. The 44th president is the third sitting president to receive the honor but the first to win within his first year as commander-in-chief. The Nobel Committee said he was chosen “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

On to markets, equities are roughly flat this morning after the S&P 500 gained 0.75% in Thursday’s session. The only piece of data to hit markets this morning is the trade balance at 8:30, but three officials from the Federal Reserve give tal
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ks throughout the day as well....(read more)
Mortgage rates just keep going down according to data released this week by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Both the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM and the 15-year fixed rate mortgage established new historic lows....(read more)
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are reporting to be running a pilot program to help independent mortgage banks obtain warehouse type credit. The program, currently being in conjunction with two of the GSE;s affiliates, aims to increase the credit worthiness of lenders by reducing their risks....(read more)
A global advance in equities helped US stocks continue to rally on Tuesday. The last two days have seen stocks rise enough to erase losses from the previous two weeks. Indeed, the S&P 500 is just 15 points shy of the 2009 peak reached on Sept. 22. Commodities are also the rise. WTI crude has been driven up $1.40 to $71.81 per barrel, while gold has added $22.80 to a new record high at $1,040.60 per ounce. Meanwhile, the US dollar remains weak against a broad array of currencies, in part due to a report from the UK’s Independent stating that different Gulf states were in secret talks with R
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ussia, China, Japan and France to replace the greenback in trading crude oil. ...(read more)
While delinquencies are still on the rise reflecting a continued weak economy and rising unemployment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also increasing the activity of the HAMP program. At the same time the GSEs are looking to the credit-worthiness of new loans coming into their portfolios.
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Stocks are once again tumbling as talk of increased regulation is underway on Capital Hill. Fresh data on the nation’s manufacturing sector didn’t help either as it came in below market forecasts.
Early this morning Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, told a congressional panel that an oversight council created by various regulatory should be established.

...(read more)
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