nation [Virginian - Pilot]
(Virginian - Pilot Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) mortgage applications tumble to 13-year low
The number of Americans applying for mortgages has fallen 63 percent since a May peak, reflecting a cooling housing market and higher borrowing rates.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said applications fell a seasonally adjusted 6.3 percent last week from a week earlier. Applications are now at a 13-year low.
The drop-off follows a 1 percentage point increase in mortgage rates from historic lows last spring. The average for a 30-year mortgage is 4.47 percent, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.
Home sales stalled and began to fall once rates steadily increased after May. That ended a year and a half of rising mortgage applications since the housing bust.
amex to pay at least $75.7M in settlement
American Express has agreed to pay at least $75.7 million to end an investigation into what regulators said was misleading marketing of some discontinued card products.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that American Express led consumers to believe that an account protection product would work for up to two years when the benefits usually lasted no more than three months, and it didn't properly explain the enrollment process for a product intended to protect against identity theft. It said 85 percent of consumers who signed up didn't complete the enrollment process, but they were billed anyway.
The FDIC says the programs were marketed to customers between 2004 and 2012. It said American Express will pay restitution to 335,000 customers.
stocks end on a high note before christmas
Stocks rose in a holiday-shortened trading day Tuesday.
Markets were open for just half a day ahead of the Christmas holiday, and trading volume was extremely light. Roughly 1.3 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, a third of what is traded on a regular day.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 62.94 points to 16,357.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.33 points to 1,833.32, and the Nasdaq composite rose 6.52 points to 4,155.42.
Stocks have been rising steadily since last Wednesday, when the Fed surprised investors by announcing it was cutting back its bond- buying program, citing an improving economy. Few investors expect stocks to continue to rise at this pace through 2014, though.
durable goods orders jump 3.5% in november
Businesses stepped up their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in November. And a key category that signals business investment plans climbed at the fastest pace in 10 months.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that orders for durable goods jumped 3.5 percent last month compared with October, when they had fallen 0.7 percent. The increase was led by a 21.8 percent surge in demand for commercial aircraft, which can be volatile.
Core capital goods, a category that tracks business investment, rose 4.5 percent, the biggest gain since January. This category is seen as a gauge of business plans to expand and modernize and as a measure of business confidence.
Orders for motor vehicles and parts increased 3.3 percent.
inquiry expanded on mercedes' rear lights
U.S. safety regulators have expanded an investigation into rear- light failures in Mercedes-Benz C-Class luxury vehicles.
The inquiry now covers nearly 253,000 cars from the 2008 through 2011 model years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the stop, tail and turn signal lights can fail because of a melted electrical connector.
Mercedes also reported more than 23,000 warranty claims that could be tied to the problem.
The safety agency has upgraded the inquiry to an engineering analysis. That's a step closer to a recall, but so far, no recall has been issued.
Investigators say the problem appears to be worsening as the vehicles get older.
- From wire reports
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