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Nation’s housing and jobs markets are rising together, reports show

The performance of mortgages nationwide continued to improve in fourth-quarter 2015, while foreclosure activity dropped off further, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC’s) quarterly report on mortgages shows.

An improving labor market is one of the factors helping to propel the healthier numbers in the housing. market. Payroll-services company ADP released a jobs report today that represents more good news on that front as well.

The share of current and performing first-lien mortgages stood at 94.1 percent in this past fourth quarter, compared with 93.2 percent for the year-earlier quarter and 91.8 percent as of fourth-quarter 2013, according to the OCC Mortgage Metrics Report, Fourth Quarter 2015. A total of 63,387 new foreclosures were started during the fourth quarter of 2015, down 1.2 percent from the prior quarter and down 15.9 percent from fourth-quarter 2014.

A total of 35,118 mortgage modifications were initiated this past fourth quarter, down from 47,561 mortgage modifications in the year-earlier quarter — representing a 26 percent decline. Borrower’s monthly payments were reduced in 87 percent of the modifications implemented in fourth-quarter 2015, the OCC report shows.

The banks included in the OCC report, as of year-end 2015, serviced 21.5 million first-lien mortgages with $3.7 trillion in unpaid principal balances — accounting for 41 percent of all outstanding first-lien residential mortgage debt in the country.

The ADP jobs report, derived from the company’s payroll data, shows the nation’s private sector added 200,000 jobs in March, on par with ADP’s revised February new-jobs figure of 205,000. The Labor Department’s employment report, which covers government and private-sector jobs, is slated to be released on Friday

“The March job gain of 200,000 is consistent with average monthly job growth of the past more than four years,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said. “The only industry reducing payrolls is energy, as has been the case for over a year. All indications are that the job machine will remain in high gear.”

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