A look at stories across HousingWire's weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues:
Banks will begin to report first-quarter results on Friday. Bank stocks shot up 24% this year, their steepest ascent in any quarter since the end of September 2009, according to KBW.
Banks that embrace mortgage banking will probably report decent earnings. “It's probably some of the most profitable stuff you can do,” analyst Paul Miller of FBR Capital Markets told Reuters.
Profit from new mortgages, mainly refinances, should counterbalance the loss of fee income from new restrictions on the amount banks can charge merchants for debit card transactions. Wells Fargo (WFC) and JPMorgan (JPM) have large mortgage operations and some regional banks, such as SunTrust (STI) and Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) could get a lift, too.
JPMorgan and Wells Fargo kick off bank earnings Friday morning. For 81 financial companies in the S&P 500 stock index, first-quarter earnings are expected to be 6.5% higher from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters.
As of Monday, the upfront insurance premium charged on Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages rises to 1.75% from 1%. But the FHA will delay another rule related to overdue credit accounts of $1,000 or more.
The annual mortgage insurance premium will increase by 10 basis points for loans under the $625,500 limit and by 35 bps for home loans above that amount starting in June.
The increases are designed to bolster the FHA's reserves, which fell below the minimum established by law as a result of the housing crash. It’s the fourth FHA fee increase in the last three years and is expected to bolster the fund by more than $1 billion through 2013, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The fee increases will raise the cost of a $200,000 FHA mortgage by about $24 a month, assuming the borrower includes the upfront charge in the amount financed through a 30-year mortgage.
The upfront fee on an FHA streamline refinance is staying at 1% until it drops to 0.01% June 11 for borrowers who obtained their current mortgage before May 31, 2009. The annual insurance fee on such refinances will remain at 0.55%.
The FHA rescinded and will delay a separate rule that as of April 1 prohibited borrowers with more than $1,000 in disputed collections accounts from getting a federally backed mortgage, according to a notice sent late Friday.
FHA postponed the rule until July, and will take public comment until then to clarify guidance.
The Home Affordable Modification Program is nearing its millionth mortgage workout. Mortgage servicers started more than 22,000 permanent modifications under HAMP in February, according to Treasury Department data released Friday.
Since the program launched in March 2009, servicers converted 974,000 permanent modifications from more than 1.8 million trials.
The nearly $30 billion program was originally expected to reach between 3 million and 4 million borrowers. The Treasury expanded the program by one year in January, pushing its end date to the end of 2013. It will began tripling incentives to investors for principal reduction under HAMP
Shareholders are seeing evidence they are gaining influence over corporate pay practices. The signs are appearing as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act, which mandates mandated by the law require companies to put their pay practices to a shareholder vote at least every three years.
The say-on-pay rules went into effect in 2011, so this season’s crop of corporate proxies will provide the first real glimpse into how companies are, or aren’t, responding when their shareholders express displeasure over CEO pay.
Pay experts generally consider it a sign that shareholders are deeply unhappy when at least 20% vote against a company’s pay practices — the New York Times reports that some companies are listening.
There were no bank closures last week, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Sixteen banks have closed so far in 2012. At this point in 2011, 28 banks had closed.
Staff writer Jon Prior contributed to this report.