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Personal Finance News 07/2010

AP - Trade group says its manufacturing index slows in June, but still signals growth.

Mortgage rates drop to another low, 4.58 pct. (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates have sunk to the lowest level in more than five decades, but consumers aren't rushing to refinance their loans or buy homes.

5 Questions for the Second Half of 2010 (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - We're halfway through a turbulent year, and the market's rocky ways are likely to continue.

Sallie Mae to relocate to Delaware (AP)
AP - Sallie Mae, the nation's largest student lender, has decided to move its corporate headquarters from Reston, Va., to Delaware.

Summary Box: Mortgage rates drop to 4.58 pct (AP)
AP - SINKING RATES: Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for 30-year fixed loans sank to 4.58 percent this week, the lowest on records dating back to 1971. That's down from the previous record of 4.69 percent set last week.

Former mortgage exec pleads not guilty in Va. (AP)
AP - The former head of a mortgage lending company accused of scheming to steal more than $500 million from the government's financial bailout fund has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Closing on a Home? Follow These Tips. (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - It's a great time to buy a home. With the real estate crash, prices are way down and mortgage rates have never been lower. But if you are not careful, a new rule recently enacted by Fannie Mae could end your homeownership dreams.

Second Half Slowdown: Here's What to Expect (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Keep this in mind when sifting through the end-of-the-world headlines: This, too, will pass.

Finding gold in them thar foreclosures (AP)
AP - If we're going to search for gold in the wreckage of the mortgage crisis, then 6:57 a.m. in front of 1009 W. Juanita Ave. is as good a time and place as any to start.

Mortgage rates scream buy, but who is listening? (AP)
AP - An odd scene has been playing out lately in the offices of mortgage brokers and bankers around the country.

Finding gold in them thar foreclosures (AP)
AP - If we're going to search for gold in the wreckage of the mortgage crisis, then 6:57 a.m. in front of 1009 W. Juanita Ave. is as good a time and place as any to start.

Mortgage applications rise 7 pct. as rates fall (AP)
AP - Applications for home loans rose last week as consumers raced to refinance at the lowest rates in decades.

Summary Box: Mortgage applications rise 7 pct. (AP)
AP - MORTGAGE APPLICATIONS RISE: Applications for home loans rose nearly 7 percent last week from a week earlier as consumers raced to refinance at the lowest rates in decades.

Better Buy: Gold or Gold Miners? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - With the market in disarray and a second-half economic slowdown at hand, investors of various stripes may be considering initiating, or substantially adding to, a gold position. The key question, however, is how to most profitably, and most safely, gain exposure to the yellow metal.

Other loopholes in consumer financial protection (AP)
AP - Auto dealers and community banks are central to consumer finance. Millions of Americans will be affected because they escaped oversight by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Wells Fargo ends non-prime mortgage biz (Reuters)
Reuters - Wells Fargo & Co , the fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets, said on Wednesday it is closing more than 600 Wells Fargo Financial offices and will no longer originate non-prime mortgages.

Wells Fargo cutting 3,800 workers in restructuring (AP)
AP - Wells Fargo & Co. said Wednesday it's laying off 3,800 employees over the next year as part of a restructuring of its consumer finance unit.

Fannie, Freddie find new home over the counter (AP)
AP - Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will begin trading over-the-counter Thursday, nearly a month after the government-sponsored mortgage buyers said they could no longer meet the requirements of companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ahead of the Bell: Consumer Credit (AP)
AP - Consumer borrowing likely fell again in May after posting a rare increase in April.

H&R Block falls following resignation of CEO Smyth (AP)
AP - Shares of H&R Block fell sharply Thursday after the CEO of the nation's largest tax preparation company resigned unexpectedly.

Summary Box: Mortgage rates sink to 4.57 pct (AP)
AP - RATES SET NEW LOW: Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for 30-year fixed loans dropped to 4.57 percent this week, the lowest on records dating back to 1971. That's down from the previous record of 4.58 percent set last week.

Mortgage rates drop to new low of 4.57 pct. (AP)
AP - Mortgage rates fell for the second straight week to the lowest point in five decades. But many people either don't qualify for new mortgages or have already taken advantage of the low rates this year.

AP - Consumer borrowing falls sharply in May, marking the 15th decline in the past 16 months.

Consumer borrowing down sharply in May (AP)
AP - Consumer borrowing fell again in May, more evidence that Americans remain jittery over their finances and the durability of the economic recovery.

Financial Aid: Help Is on the Way (BusinessWeek)
BusinessWeek - Students taking out federal student loans will be confronted with a bevy of changes when they visit their school's financial aid office this fall. This spring, the U.S. Senate passed a student loan bill -- the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act -- that led to a major revamping of the federal student loan program, shifting everything from how students obtain their loans to the amount of aid doled out through such programs as the Pell Grant.

Turn Fear Into Opportunity With These Stocks (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - After a year of blissful recovery from 2009's nightmarish lows, fear is back in full force. As much as you may be tempted to cut and run with any profits you've earned during the rally, times like this have generally been tailor-made buying opportunities in the past.

Avoid These 5 Retirement Investing Traps (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - Saving for retirement can be tricky. If you're not careful, one wrong move can set you back years and thousands in potential earnings. Watch out for these common retirement investing traps.

Goldman sued by Liberty Mutual over Fannie stock (Reuters)
Reuters - Goldman Sachs Group Inc was sued by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co, which accused the Wall Street bank of fraudulently misleading it into buying preferred stock of mortgage financier Fannie Mae that would become "virtually worthless."

BofA bolsters compliance after $10.7 billion error (Reuters)
Reuters - Bank of America Corp is beefing up its internal accounting controls after it incorrectly classified as much as $10.7 billion in short-term lending and repurchase deals for mortgage securities as sales, according to a letter filed on Friday with U.S. securities regulators.

White House says changes to Fannie Freddie on deck (Reuters)
Reuters - Republicans should not use problems at mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as an excuse to vote against sweeping changes to the rules of Wall Street, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Sunday.

Fund targets banks over subprime losses: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Fund Cambridge Place Investment Partners is suing a number of banks for mis-selling a total of $2.4 billion in mortgage-backed securities, an online report by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London said on Sunday.

Time to Rethink Fannie and Freddie (BusinessWeek)
BusinessWeek - As the White House pushed for a Wall Street overhaul this year, Republicans hammered Democrats for ignoring two of the biggest problems in American finance: Fannie Mae (fnm.) and Freddie Mac (fre.). The government-backed mortgage giants have cost taxpayers $145 billion and counting. Now, with work on the 2,300-page financial-regulation bill all but complete, the Obama Administration will soon turn to revamping the pair of institutions that own more than half the nation's $11 trillion in residential mortgages. The political struggle could be long and bitter.

Even These Stocks Can Pay You Back (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - Investors have gotten increasingly frustrated with companies that hoard their cash instead of putting it to better use -- like paying dividends to shareholders. But if you like a particular stock as an investment, but also need to draw income from it, there's still a way to turn you shares into a stream of income.

Summary Box: Recovering Fannie, Freddie losses (AP)
AP - GETTING MONEY BACK: A federal regulator is trying to recover some losses sustained by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on mortgage securities packaged and sold by Wall Street firms.

Is This Junk Worth the Risk? (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - In the financial markets, investors who take risks often reap the biggest rewards. Although most of the bond market has been among investors' favorite places for new money in recent months, junk bonds just might be giving you enough potential reward to justify their risk.

Rosengren says Fed could buy more assets: report (Reuters)
Reuters - The Federal Reserve would be able to lower borrowing costs further if the economy weakens considerably by reinvesting maturing mortgage debt it owns or boosting asset purchases, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said.

Senate to extend middle-class tax cuts-Baucus (Reuters)
Reuters - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus on Tuesday said he expects the Senate to extend middle-income tax cuts before they expire by the end of the year.

AIG shares jump on report of possible IPO (AP)
AP - Shares of American International Group Inc. jumped Tuesday after a media report said the company is considering an initial public offering for its Asian life insurance unit, AIA.

Ruling on Visteon retiree benefits overturned (AP)
AP - Auto parts supplier Visteon Corp. cannot terminate its retirees' health and life insurance benefits without following certain procedures under bankruptcy law, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Home-buying applications sink to 13-year low (Reuters)
Reuters - Demand for loans to purchase U.S. homes sunk to a 13-year low last week, and refinancing demand also slid despite near record-low mortgage rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

Home loan applications down 2.9 pct. (AP)
AP - Applications for home loans dipped last week even though consumers were able to refinance at the lowest rates in decades.

PersonalFinance: The lure of low mortgage rates (Reuters)
Reuters - Three straight weeks of record low mortgage interest rates has spurred another refi boom. That's understandable: The idea of locking in 4.5 percent for 30 years is really tempting.

Summary Box: Home loan applications down (AP)
AP - MORTGAGE APPLICATIONS FALL: Applications for home loans dipped nearly 3 percent last week even though consumers were able to refinance at the lowest rates in decades, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Calif. AG sues feds over renewable energy loans (AP)
AP - State Attorney General Jerry Brown sued the federal government Wednesday, asking a judge to stop government-sponsored mortgage buyers from blocking a program that lets homeowners pay for energy-efficient improvements through increased property taxes.

9 Surprising Facts About Your Credit Score (U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. News & World Report - A solid credit history and excellent FICO credit score - typically 750 or above -- are extremely valuable. A high credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars in mortgage interest, lower your auto insurance premiums, and even help you land your next job. For all their importance, however, a lot of confusion surrounds credit reports and scores. To take some of the mystery out of these important financial tools, here are 9 facts about credit reports and scores that might surprise you.

Summary Box: Mortgage rates lowest in decades (AP)
AP - RATES STAY LOW: Mortgage rates were unchanged this week from a week earlier. Government-sponsored mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.57 percent.

GOP lawmaker: VIP loans given to Senate staff (AP)
AP - A Republican lawmaker says documents show the former Countrywide Financial Corp. may have targeted Senate employees for sweetheart mortgage deals.

Insider Buying at Monsanto (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - This week, Monsanto's (NYSE: MON - News) Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant and its CFO Carl Casale both filed SEC Form 4s to record purchases of stock. Grant bought 37,500 shares and Casale bought 30,000. With shares north of $50 a piece, the combined investment of more than $3.5 billion is pretty substantial even for well-paid executives. Money doesn't grow on corn stalks, you know.

Obama's Spill Commission Unleashes a Shocker (The Motley Fool)
The Motley Fool - BP's (NYSE: BP - News) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has dominated the news since a Transocean (NYSE: RIG - News) rig exploded and burned, unleashing a nonstop oil gusher from its badly damaged well.

Senate plan puts off space shuttle retirement (Reuters)
Reuters - A U.S. Senate oversight committee unanimously passed a plan on Thursday to postpone retirement of the space shuttle as part of a job-saving compromise to the Obama administration's wish to end NASA's program to return astronauts to the moon.

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