The Mortgage Bankers Association on Thursday released its long-term economic forecast for 2004, 2005 and 2006, which projects strong economic growth through 2006 and gross domestic product growth rates exceeding 4 percent each year. The MBA forecasts real GDP growth will average 4.7 percent during 2004, and 4.1 percent in 2005 and 2006. The unemployment rate will decline from the current level of about 5.7 percent to 5.2 percent by the middle of 2006. MBA expects the 10-year Treasury rate will rise to an average of 4.5 percent by the fourth quarter of 2004, 5.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2005, and average 5.4 percent during 2006. Mortgage rates will follow a similar pattern, although the spread between mortgage and Treasury rates is expected to tighten. Existing-home sales will come off record levels and fall by 5.1 percent in 2004 and fall by 3.6 percent in 2005 and be essentially unchanged in 2006. Sales will remain at very high levels by historical standards. New-home...
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