Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news across HousingWire's weekend desk with more coverage on bigger issues.

All eyes will be on earnings this week, most notably Citigroup for the mortgage finance sector. The bank is reporting first thing Monday morning.

Expectations are low, considering the bank didn't pass recent stress tests and peers JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo failed to impress last week.

Therefore, should Citi beat expectations, all is not lost according to Selerity Research:

"A positive earnings report could see the stock bounce back up to its 200-day MA at $50.16. Conversely, anything negative that pushes the stock below $46 has limited support and increases speculation of a decline back closer to $25 where the stock has found support over the last few years. 

"Given the precarious technical picture, the stock could get a nice relief bounce if earnings come in at the $1.30 high end of analysts' expectations."

On the bright side of the mortgage market, lending at smaller originators is actually growing. But, not at rates large enough to replace the abymssal numbers at the big banks.

John Mason on Seeking Alpha writes that new data for small banks reflect the slow January and February period, impacted by the weather, but residential real estate loans jumped up by over $14 billion in March.

"It is not entirely clear whether or not these increases reflect new construction or the refinancing of existing mortgages or new financing on foreclosed properties," Mason adds.

The Federal Housing Administration last week responded to claims that its mortgage insurance rates are driving buyers away.

Speaking at a conference of the Mortgage Banker’s Association, FHA Commissioner Carol Galante told the crowd that the premium increases were necessary to fund the agency’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, and that FHA is not planning to reduce its rates.

But she acknowledged that the increases may have reached a “tipping point” that could drive buyers away.

The FHA is not backing down, though it's drawing some criticism for a perceived harsh approach to expanding homeownership. In an op-ed in Forbes, Mark Greene levied the harshest criticism yet:

"As I said previously, this is an under-the-radar tax on low-to-moderate income consumers, and it is absent implementation resistance because it is so well disguised as to be undetectable. This is not a headline grabbing tax increase and there is no mechanism for reporting it on a paystub or a tax return. 

It is a quiet, tacit, mandatory add-on for all FHA mortgage consumers, measured in basis points and virtually invisible to the naked eye.

It is so well hidden as to eliminate any risk of push-back from those affected, it is an incremental cost incurred by those who have no other choice because they are part of a captive audience. The financial burden for HUD’s inability to manage the FHA marketplace is now shouldered by those mortgage consumers who can least afford it."

A Pennsylvania bank submitted the highest bid for First Mariner Bank, a deal that still requires approval from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge and would end a plan by local investors seeking to acquire one of Baltimore's largest independent banks, writes Ryan Sharrow in the Baltimore Business Journal.

National Penn Bancshares agrees to pay $19.1 million for First Mariner, according to court filings. If approved, National Penn Banchares said it would merge First Mariner into National Penn Bank.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has not closed a bank since February 28.