According to a trade group, confidence among US small business owners continued to creep up in April, though they are still somewhat cautious about the long term business environment as the economy continues to recover from its biggest slowdown since the 1930s. According to a report from the National Federation of Independent Business, the group's Index of Small Business Optimism rose 2.6 points in April to a fresh reading of 92.1, reversing a decline of 1.3 in the index's reading for March. The index is compiled from responses collected from some 1,870 business members of the organization.
An Appeals Court judge in New York ruled Friday that a lawsuit against Swedish bank UBS over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-related losses may proceed. Filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the agency that oversees the two mortgage behemoths, the claim is but one of more than a dozen suits brought against banks over massive losses suffered by the mortgage insurers when the housing market collapsed in 2007. According to the FHFA, the two companies lost close to $200 billion on bad mortgages during the recession. UBS asked the judge, presiding over the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, to dismiss the suit, but the judge ruled that the FHFA did not wait too long after taking control of Fannie and Freddie and that it had a basis to bring a case.
The Mortgage Bankers Association reported Friday that applications for home loans surged a whopping 14.8 percent for the week ended March 1st following three straight weeks of declining applications. The report showed significant gains in demand for not only home purchase loans, but also refinance mortgages, as both categories rose about 15 percent. The report underscores the building momentum in the recovery of the housing market, which has essentially held back the broader economy for better than four years. The reported gain in mortgage application levels brought the MBA's index to its highest level since the middle of January.
More than three fourths of Americans will see an increase in taxes coming out of their checks this year as a result of the agreement reached between Democrats and Republicans to keep the country from falling off the so-called fiscal cliff. According to research from the Tax Policy Center, the average increase in taxes will amount to $1,257, with the biggest hit being taken by those with incomes of over $1 million, who will see their taxes jump by an average of more than $170,000. Those on the other end of the scale, with incomes below $10,000, will pay just $68 more a year in taxes.
A US District Court Judge rulled on Monday that a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency against Deutsche Bank AG will proceed. Judge Denise Cote denied Deutsche Bank's request to have the claim thrown out, though she did reject several of the FHFA's claims. “The facts alleged in the amended complaint are sufficient to plead fraud with respect to the offering material’s representations regarding mortgage underwriting standards,” Cote explained in her ruling.
On October 19th, 1987, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 500 points, marking the single worst one day slide in the blue-chip index's history. On the 25th anniversary of that woeful day known ever since as Black Monday, the Dow slipped another 200 points. Friday's slide was only about 1.5 percent, compared to the 22 percent decline on Black Monday, but was still a painful reminder for equities traders that their portfolios can be slashed in value in a single day. Friday's losses, much like those from earlier this week, were fueled by a series of disappointing corporate earnings, led by weak economy safe haven McDonalds and powerhouse conglomerate General Electric.
Since going public in May Facebook employees have lost an average of $2 million each. Bad news for them but even worse news for Facebook executives who have lost even more (Facebook COO, Sheryl Sanberg, is estimated to have lost over $700 million since the IPO debut). The not-so-bad news: FB employees still average around $2.5 million each in stock value.
Facebook shares debuted at $38 per, but steadily declined, then bottomed out in September at $17.55 per share. As of today, shares are hovering around $19.70.
Following in the footsteps of Google who continue to alter their algorithm in order to make companies shell out more money on their PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, Facebook is desperate to keep the cash flow coming in too. In one of their latest moves, the company proposed that businesses / users who wish to spread the word about their latest post should pay Facebook to promote it. The theory is instead of your post having a short shelf-life on their newsfeed, you could pay Facebook to allow it to stay longer.
Facebook engineer Abhishek Doshi commented, “When you promote a post – whether it’s wedding photos, a garage sale, or big news – you bump it higher in news feed so your friends and subscribers are more likely to notice it,” wrote Doshi.
Those who have less than 5K friends are able to take 'advantage of this opportunity', costing a 'mere' seven bucks per post. The 'downside' is the cost is more than triple what users in New Zealand were being charged when Facebook tested that market.
The news has been met with mixed results. Dan Rowinski of RWW claims the latest move has a 'whiff of extortion: pay to promote your post or nobody will ever see it'.
Here's some advice to these companies who feel they must continually find ways to take money out of people's pockets. Be happy with the fact that people use your site at all. The entire financial system is based on 'what have you done lately - if you aren't growing, you're slowing'. Instead of trying to squeeze every dime out of your users, be satisified with what you have because eventually greed will force them to look away.
US stocks rose sharply on Wednesday, led by the tech sector, as investors received a string of mostly positive corporate earnings reports and testimony delivered to Congress from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. While Bernanke's outlook on the economy was slightly downbeat, what investors took from it was that the likelihood of a third round of quantitative easing seems even more likely.
Stellar earnings from JP Morgan Chase drove the first rally of the week on Friday as the Dow posted its biggest gain since late June. All three major US indexes erased the week's declines on the day. JP Morgan's per share earnings of $1.21 smashed Wall Street expectations of 70 cents a share in earnings, overshadowing the bank's revelation that the massive trading loss first announced as $2 billion in May turned into $5.8 billion. Another factor in Friday's rally, economists noted, is that China's second-quarter growth rate decelerated sharply, but not as sharply as some had feared.
US stocks posted substantial losses on Friday, giving back all of their gains from earlier in the week, as investors reacted to a hugely disappointing reading on the US labor market. Early in Friday's session, the Labor Dept. reported that the economy gained just 80,000 jobs in June, well below economists expectations and a warning sign for the economy as a whole. In the holiday-shortened trading week, stock fell slightly on Monday and made gains on Tuesday and Thursday before giving them back on Friday.