A look at stories across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues:

A swath of monthly housing data hits the economic scene this week, as mortgage industry players look for more signals of the direction of the market. It starts Monday with the National Association of Home Builders housing market index, which reached a four-year high in February at a reading of 29.

Analysts polled by Econoday expect the index to tick up to 30 for March, while MarketWatch writes economists said it will remain at 29. That’s still well below a score of 50, which signals a healthy housing market.

The Commerce Department releases its data on February housing starts Tuesday. The seasonally adjusted measure rose by 1.5% a month earlier to its highest level since October 2008, a result of a 14% annual increase in multifamily housing starts.

The Econoday survey predicts a slight increase to 700,000 from 699,000 in January.

Existing and new home sales are also due this week courtesy the National Association of Realtors, set for Wednesday and Friday. A MarketWatch poll of economists forecasts a rise in annual existing home sales to 4.6 million from 4.57 million in January, and to 330,000 from 321,000 for new home sales.

Mitt Romney picked up another win in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, easily taking Puerto Rico and all 20 of its delegates Sunday.

Missouri also held its caucuses Saturday, but the delegates chosen don’t translate exactly to national GOP convention votes according to The Kansas City Star. One gathering got a bit rowdy, according to ABC News, where police intervened after complaints against supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

The attention now turns to Illinois and Louisiana this week, with primaries Tuesday and Saturday.

California’s share of the national mortgage settlement will have its own monitor, as the state’s attorney general named University of California, Irvine law professor Katherine Porter to oversee the disbursement of as much as $18 billion in relief to homeowners. Porter is a specialist in foreclosures and bankruptcy, according to the AG’s office.

Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general, made the decision independent of the national settlement, her office said. Porter will work with Joseph Smith, who will supervise settlement payouts and compliance at the national level.

Five nominees selected by President Barack Obama will go before the Senate Banking Committee during a hearing Tuesday. The nominees, all in the financial world, include Jerome Powell and Jeremy Stein to sit on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Christy Romero to be the permanent Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Romero received backing from Obama in late January, and has served as acting head since Neil Barofsky left his post in 2011.

A committee vote on the nominees will come at a later date.

The Federal Depository Insurance Corp. reported no bank failures Friday, ending a three-week streak of at least one failed institution. Thirteen banks have gone under so far this year.



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