Money Odds & Ends

Record low mortgage rates attract more refinancings; Northeastern Wisconsin CEOs take action against recession

Record low mortgage rates attract more refinancings

Mortgage rates are plummeting to record lows, attracting hoards of applications for new mortgages and mortgage refinancings.

Applications for the week ended Dec. 19 ran 124.6 percent ahead of the mortgage activity seen during the same week last year, according the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey.

The survey’s refinance Index increased 62.6 percent from the week before. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 83.2 percent of the total applications from 76.9 percent the previous week.

The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to an average of 5.14 percent for the week ending Dec. 24, down from last week’s 5.19 percent average, according to the MBA survey, released today.

"Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages eased for the eighth straight week and set another record low since Freddie Mac’s survey began in 1971," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, in a news release.

Northeastern Wisconsin CEOs take action against recession

The recession is taking a toll on the outlook of chief executive officers in northeastern Wisconsin.

CEO confidence measured by the Nicolet National Bank Business Pulse poll taken Dec. 5-12 reflects the sentiments of about 600 CEOs in northeastern Wisconsin.

According to the newest survey: 50 percent view the current economic conditions as a threat; 47 percent have enacted additional internal expense controls; 42 percent have increased business development activities; and 42 percent have initiated a hiring freeze.

According to the poll, the CEOs said their top challenge (77 percent) in 2009 will be increasing sales. Other "very significant" challenges in 2009 will include operating in the context of financial uncertainty (53 percent); increasing health care insurance costs (33 percent); improving quality of marketing efforts (30 percent); operating with increasingly tight credit (28 percent), retaining quality employees (25 percent); and developing new products and services (22 percent).

The survey was conducted for Nicolet Bank by Intellectual Marketing.

A poll of economic optimism also is ongoing at

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