Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.

Home Builder Confidence Drops Further

Home builder sentiment remains at low levels in June, falling 3 points to a reading of 13 on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, the National Association of Home Builders reported on Wednesday. The last time the index was this low was in September of 2010. "Builders are being squeezed by the continuing weakness in existing-home prices – against which they must compete -- as well as rising material costs," said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a...
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May Retail Sales Better than Expected

Retail sales fell for the first time in 11 months, mostly pulled down by a sharp decrease in auto sales, according to a government report released on Tuesday. The Commerce Department reported that total retail sales slipped .2 percent in May - better than analysts’ expectations of a .4 percent decline. Excluding vehicles and auto parts sales, retail sales increased .3 percent. The stock market responded positively to the report and had its best day so...
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Three Top Banks Penalized for Falling Short on Home Loan Mods

After reviewing the performance of the ten largest mortgage servicers participating in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), government officials have decided to halt payments to three top U.S. banks that are not doing enough to prevent foreclosures, the Treasury said in a report on Thursday.Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, and J.P. Morgan Chase were identified as needing “substantial improvement” in their handling of home loan modifications for last quarter and will lose out on...
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Economy Growing at Slower Pace

The U.S. economy continued to grow in May - but at a slower pace due to higher food and energy costs and bad weather in some areas, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Federal Reserve.The Fed’s Beige Book summarized, “Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity generally continued to expand since the last report, though a few districts indicated some deceleration.” Information in the latest Beige Book release was...
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GM CEO Suggests Raising Gas Tax

As if overburdened taxpayers and underemployed consumers aren’t already paying enough for decisions made by big business - the head of one bailed-out company thinks Americans should pay even more, according to a report by The Detroit News.General Motors CEO Dan Akerson told the paper in an interview that he wants to see the federal gas tax raised by as much as one dollar a gallon to steer consumers towards buying more fuel-efficient vehicles - rather...
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Credit Card Delinquencies at Lowest Level in 15 Years

Consumers have been busy reducing their credit card debt and delinquencies have fallen to the lowest level in nearly fifteen years, according to a report released by a national credit reporting agency. Delinquencies fell in the first quarter of 2011 to 0.74 percent of credit card accounts, TransUnion reported on Monday. This figure is down 10 percent from the previous quarter and down nearly 33 percent from the same quarter last year. The last time delinquencies...
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Paying Back Student Loan Top Concern for Many Graduates

Over half of college graduates are worried about paying back their student loans but are missing key ways to build a strong financial foundation, according to a study sponsored and released by Capital One Bank. According to FinAid.org and Fastweb.com., the average student loan for this year’s graduate is almost $23,000 - quite a hefty debt for someone just starting out in their career. For college seniors and recent graduates, the survey found that of the...
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FTC: Online Scammers Take $450 Million from Consumers

A Canadian-based online operation accused of scamming more than $450 million from consumers has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency reported on Tuesday. Consumers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were lured in by “free” offers, only to have recurring charges racked up on their credit or debit card, the FTC complaint states. The offers were for a wide variety of products and services, including acai berry weight-loss pills, teeth whiteners,...
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April Housing Starts Drop 10.6%

Housing starts fell 10.6% in April from the previous month, the Commerce Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said in a jointly released statement on Tuesday.The unexpected drop was mainly due to the 28.3% plunge in volatile multi-family housing (homes with five or more units). Single-family home starts fell 5.1%.The seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 523,000 homes in April was also 23.9% below the level from a year ago - back when the...
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Unemployment Rate Drops

Most U.S. cities have seen a drop in the unemployment rate over the past year, a government agency reported on Thursday. The unemployment rate dropped in 317 of the 372 metropolitan areas surveyed by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in the twelve-month period beginning in March 2010. It was higher in 44 metros, and remain unchanged in 11 areas. The national average unemployment has dropped 1 percentage point in that same time period -...
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