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Monday
Oct252010

Existing Home Sales Up, Fueling Hope of Housing Recovery

Image Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Hope of a housing recovery was fueled Monday by release of the September existing home sales numbers.  The National Association of Realtors reports sales climbed for the second month in a row in September. The 10% increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million homes last month is an improvement on the 4.12 million figure from August. 

It’s better than expected and some economists believe a housing recovery is building, but the October foreclosure moratorium may put a damper on the next report.  In addition, the September numbers remain well below the sales figures from last year, when a tax incentive sent buyers out shopping for homes. 

Meantime, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says regulators are reviewing mortgage companies’ actions.  Many lenders allegedly used rubber stamp approvals on foreclosure paperwork and in some cases improperly approved foreclosures on paid-up mortgages.  Bernanke said “We are looking intensively at the firms' policies, procedures and internal controls related to foreclosures and seeking to determine whether systematic weaknesses are leading to improper foreclosures. We take violations of proper procedures seriously.”

 The findings of the review will be released next month. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

End of an Era: Sony Ceases Production of Walkman

Photo Courtesy - Sony/Amazon(TOKYO) -- Sony has halted production of the Walkman, citing lackluster sales as the reason behind the decision.  According to the electronics manufacturer, once the final batch of the portable cassette player sells out, the company will no longer produce the Walkman.

As PC Magazine reports, the last set of players was manufactured in Japan in April.  Once they sell out, a Chinese company will take over production.

The Walkman has been on the market for over 30 years, being first produced in 1979, and has been sold to 220 million worldwide.  Sony will continue to use its name for other devices like MP3 players and cell phones.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct252010

Most Americans Report Cutting Back on Spending

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Despite signs that the economy is improving, Americans are changing their shopping habits and cutting back on everyday and leisure expenses.  According to a new quarterly survey issued by Citi and conducted by Hart Research Associates, these changes stem from consumers' increasing unease about their debt and savings.

The percentage of Americans who say they are uncomfortable with their level of debt has risen five points since June to 38 percent, according to the survey.  The percentage of those who are somewhat or very uncomfortable with their level of savings has also increased by three points since June to 52 percent, marking the first time since September 2009 that a majority of Americans have expressed unease with their savings level.

The survey also finds that 49 percent of Americans say they either avoid shopping altogether or only shop for necessary items, while 72 percent say they have decreased everyday expenses.  Others reported planning to cut back over the next six months on spending on eating out, clothing, vacations, home appliances, electronics, automobiles and real estate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct242010

Last Minute Holiday Shoppers Get Deals, if Not Selection

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Timing your shopping throughout the year to get great deals is always a good strategy, but it becomes especially valuable as the holidays approach.

One example of well-timed buying might be for those who need patio furniture.  Buy it now - it's a great deal because retailers are trying to clear out inventory.

The personal finance website Kiplingers.com says you should also be looking ahead to your holiday shopping, but not necessarily buying right now, despite the holiday promotions cropping up in stores around the country.

"Hold off a little and they'll start discounting those items as we get closer to the holiday," said Kiplinger's Robert Long.

Toy companies say they expect people to hold off this year until the very end of the season, hoping for those deals. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct242010

Reports: Jaguar Land Rover Seeking Chinese Partner

Tata Motors CEO Carl-Peter Forster. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SHANGHAI) – Jaguar Land Rover has announced plans to boost the company’s presence in the world’s leading auto market.

A subsidiary of India’s Tata Motors Ltd., the company is reportedly in talks with a Chinese automaker to establish a manufacturing and sales venture in China.

Tata Motors’ Chief Executive Carl-Peter Forster said this weekend that the company is in discussions with a potential partner to expand the unit's manufacturing and marketing operations.

China displaced the U.S. last year as the world’s leading auto market.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct242010

Turf War: Under Armour Launches Shoe Line to Compete with Nike

Under Armour's new Micro G Black Ice basketball shoe. Photo Courtesy - Under Armour(BALTIMORE) – Apparel and sporting retailer Under Armour has announced the release of a new line of basketball shoes they hope will cut into Nike’s 95 percent share of the industry.

The company announced the release of the Micro G line Saturday. The line will include four basketball sneakers that range in price from $80 to $110.

Under Armour executives hope the shoes will appeal to more customers and raise the company’s brand awareness.

“None of us want to be anything but number one,” said Under Armour executive Gene McCarthy, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

As of Oct. 3, Nike and its affiliated brands owned 95 percent of the basketball shoe sales in the U.S., according to research from SportsONESource.

The next closest market share is held by German-based Adidas AG with just 1.98 percent of sales.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct242010

Poll: Most Americans Worry About Identity Theft

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new poll from a non-profit credit counseling group finds two-thirds of Americans worry about whether their personal information is at risk.

Identity theft has been the number one complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for three years in a row. 

Adam Levin of Identity Theft 911 says you could put your information and yourself in danger simply by posting too much on a social networking site such as Facebook.

"For some reason people feel the need to give your physical address when you don't really need to do it," Levin says, adding that your home address is one of the "critical building blocks" in identity theft. 

Other information vital to a crook who's anxious to hack into your bank account includes your birth date and social security number.

Experts say the bottom line is to think before you put anything online that you wouldn't wear on a t-shirt.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

 

Sunday
Oct242010

Fall: A Good Time to Check Retirement Savings Process

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- You still have several months to maximize your retirement and investment portfolio before you sit down to tackle your taxes.  Experts say now is a good time to look at the process and see how you can have a better retirement.

Kimberly Palmer of U.S. News and World Report says there are plenty of ways to improve your portfolio, such as maximizing your 401K plan by ramping up contributions to it.  Palmer says several one-time tax deductions run out at the end of this year.  For example, improving the energy efficiency of your home could bring back up to 30 percent of your investment.  Upgrades such as new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, insulation and energy efficient windows all fall under that program. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Oct232010

It's Buyer Beware When Shopping for a Foreclosed Property

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Homebuyers shopping for foreclosed properties may believe challenge contains opportunity and it can certainly be true. 

Kathleen Day of the Center for Responsible Lending says there can also be some big challenges, including bank mistakes.

"They still will have to prove in each case they have proper documentation," Day said.

Without meticulously correct paperwork on the foreclosure itself, the new buyer may end up in a court battle and spending the money they saved on the sale on legal fees.

The government is investigating foreclosures and many banks have suspended them until the process can be refined.  Day says it's a sign something is not right in that part of the lending industry.

"It's indicative of a foreclosure process that's broken."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

 

Saturday
Oct232010

Banks Making More Loans as Economy Struggles Out of Recession

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Banks are starting to make more loans as the U.S. economy, still bogged down by high unemployment and low consumer confidence, struggles to pull itself out of recession. 

Its good news for small businesses, which many see as the engine of recovery.  Banks have fewer bad loans on their books and are more willing to take a second look at an applicant that may not be as strong as some others. 

Brian Hamilton, CEO of the research firm Sageworks, says 57 percent of the banks his company surveyed plan to make more or significantly more commercial loans this year than last year.  Hamilton calls it a clear trend and says its good news for small businesses and consumers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio