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The US housing market has come a long way since the last crash, as nearly every indicator has improved over the last few years. Foreclosures have returned to normal levels after exploding at the onset of the recession then slowing way down as lenders halted the process amid the robo-signing scandal that prompted government mandated and self-imposed moratoria on home seizures. And with the number of underwater homeowners down considerably from a few years ago, the likelihood of another disastrous wave of foreclosure activity appears low. Home values have recovered significantly in nearly every market around the US, with some markets even seeing prices surge past levels seen before the recession.
Home Depot Raises Guidance After Posting 6th Straight Earnings Beat
The world's largest home improvement retailer raised its fiscal 2013 guidance for the third time this year on Tuesday after posting quarterly numbers that beat Wall Street predictions. Home Depot has benefited strongly from the housing recovery as rising home values have encouraged Americans to invest in their homes with improvements. The company enjoyed its sixth consecutive quarter with better-than-expected earnings, prompting an upward revision to expectations for the current fiscal year.
JP Morgan to Accept Record Fine to Settle Mortgage Fraud Charges
JP Morgan Chase & Co. is on the verge of accepting a record-high $13 billion settlement to settle civil and government fraud charges related to the sale of questionable mortgage debt that helped fuel the housing crash and the ensuing recession. A deal would include the $4 billion already paid by JP Morgan to settle a claim brought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in 2011. Details about the impending settlement are still somewhat sketchy, as neither JP Morgan nor prosecutors would comment, as the settlement has not been made public, but a source familiar with the negotiations leaked word of the deal.
Volkswagen Issues Recall for 2.6 Million Vehicles
German automaker Volkswagen suffered a setback this week when it had to recall more than 2.6 million vehicles worldwide over several minor problems. The recall involves not only the company's namesake Volkswagen brand, but also its luxury Audi line of vehicles, and represents the largest recall in the company's storied history. The pride of the German auto industry has been quite open in recent months about overtaking Japan's Toyota and the United States' General Motors as the world's largest automaker by 2020. The latest recall, while only involving minor fixes, could be the difference on whether the company achieves its stated goal.
McDonald's to Spend $3 Billion on New and Remodeled Restaurants
Not satisfied with being easily the world's largest restaurant chain, McDonald's announced on Thursday it is planning to spend almost $3 billion in 2014 to open between 1,500 and 1,600 new locations and remodel some 1,000 existing restaurants. The iconic company has dominated the world's fast food market for years, but overall sales have been relatively flat despite a series of changes to the menu. The company also issued its forecast for commodity costs in 2014, which it expects to rise between 1 and 2 percent in the US and between 1.5 and 2.5 percent in Europe.
Wal-Mart Posts Slide in Same Store Sales
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. issued its third-quarter results Thursday, posting a decline in same-store sales that concerned investors with the all-important holiday shopping season fast approaching. The world's largest retailer said both revenue and profit were high on a year-over-year basis, but sales at stores open a year or more fell slightly, prompting some alarm about the willingness of the company's lower-income customers to spend. Same-store sales are viewed as a vital piece of data about the health of a retailer, as the figure omits data from recently opened or closed stores.
Jobless Claims Drop for 5th Straight Week
The US Labor Department reported Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 2,000 last week, marking a fifth straight week in which claims declined. According to the report, 339,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance in the week ended November 9th, down 2,000 from the week prior. Of course, economists in a recent Bloomberg survey were expecting a decline of 9,000, but a fifth straight dip in claims is a positive development nonetheless. Economists have been encouraged in recent months by strength in the job market as well as several other economic indicators that have been trending in the right direction.
Lockheed Martin Reveals Plan for 4,000 Layoffs
Lockheed Martin announced Thursday it will close three of its plants by the middle of 2015, cutting 2,000 jobs in the process, and also trim down several of its divisions to further reduce payroll by another 2,000 jobs. The cuts are just the latest by a major US defense contractor as the industry moves forward following the latest round of government defense spending cuts. The three plants that Lockheed plans to close are in Newtown, Pennsylvania, Goodyear, Arizona and Akron, Ohio. The divisions the company is downsizing are its Information Systems & Global Solutions business, its Mission System and Training unit and its Space Systems segment.
Twitter Stock Soars Nearly 75 Percent in IPO
Microblogging giant Twitter went public late Wednesday, pricing its shares at $26 apiece. The initial public offering raised about $2 billion for the company, giving it a public valuation of $18.34 billion. But that was Wednesday. When trading opened on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday morning, the shares had already up more than 75 percent at $45.10 per share. The stock, which trades under the ticker symbol TWTR, rose above the $50-per-share mark during Thursday's session, though it trailed off later in the session to finish at $45.41 per share. That represents a 74.65 percent first-day gain and gives the company a market cap of $24.46 billion.