After a weaker-than-expected first quarter, economic activity has picked up and should accelerate even more through the end of the year, according to the latest forecast from Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group. The latest forecast from the group – which releases an updated economic and housing outlook each month – sees continued improvement ahead due to strengthening employment conditions and gains in household income. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, says the acceleration in income growth combined with declining gas prices should also help boost consumer spending. As for the housing market, Duncan expects the improvements seen at the beginning of this quarter to continue. “Our forecast for housing and mortgage activity remains unchanged amid continued improvement seen at the start of the second quarter,” Duncan said. “We expect total housing starts and total home sales in 2015 to rise about 10 and 5 percent, respectively, with mortgage originations increasing approximately 23 percent to $1.46 trillion. Given the uneven economic growth in the U.S. and slow growth around the globe, interest rates are unlikely to surge. This should enable the housing market to better withstand some headwinds from higher rates this year than in years past.” More here.