In their most-recent monthly economic and mortgage finance commentary, the Mortgage Bankers Association says that, though the recovery has been uneven so far this year, they expect growth to pick up in the second half of 2011. The report says the MBA expects economic and job growth to accelerate and that interest rates will trend upward this year and next. They also forecast an increase in demand for purchase loans as the job market improves. Purchase applications, which lead home sales by four-to-six weeks, increased 1.8 percent in April, following a 6.0 percent increase in March. Consumer confidence, an important indicator for housing, has increased somewhat in recent months and, while respondents were less satisfied with current conditions, the decline in short-term sentiment was more than countered by a rosier long-term outlook. More here.