The latest interest rate trends and mortgage-application statistics point to layoffs this year at mortgage banks, David Lereah, an economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, said Wednesday.

Mr. Lereah predicted a decline in sales of new and existing homes by March or April and "modest" reductions in staff at mortgage banking companies by late summer. He was quick to add that the layoffs would be "nothing like 1994," when the end of the last refinancing boom decimated lenders' ranks.

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