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Sept. 27, 2011 at 6:13 PM   |   0 comments

Markets post gains for third straight day

NEW YORK, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Stocks were buoyed Tuesday in New York by promises from European leaders the crisis in Greece could be contained.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou both speaking to a group of German business leaders reiterated pledges to keep Greece from falling into default.

Merkel said Germany would back the solution with all the financial power it could muster and Papandreou said Greece would hit all the financial targets it needed to to qualify for further international aid.

Stocks rose across Asia and Europe, following gains Monday on Wall Street.

By close of trading Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average added 146.83 points or 1.33 percent to 11,190.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 12.43 points or 1.07 percent to 1,175.38. The Nasdaq composite index added 30.14 points or 1.2 percent to 2.546.83.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,510 stocks advanced and 574 declined on a volume of 4.8 billion shares traded.

The 10-year benchmark treasury note fell 24/32 to yield 1.987 percent.

The euro rose to $1.3585 from Monday's $1.3532. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 76.91 yen from Monday's 76.37 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 2.82 percent, 235.82, to 8,609.95.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 4.02 percent, 204.68, to 5,294.05.


Morgan Stanely, Nevada, settle fraud case

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. banking giant Morgan Stanley and Nevada have agreed to a $40 million settlement in a mortgage fraud case, the state's attorney general said.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement the settlement was reached with the bank to end an investigation involving 3,000 subprime mortgages the bank purchased and sold to investors.

Morgan Stanley Capital Holdings also agreed to improve its practices and "refund and adjust interest rates for certain Nevada borrowers."

In the settlement, the bank agreed to pay $7.2 million that will go toward combating foreclosures and to prevent mortgage fraud in the state.

The settlement, called an assurance of discontinuance, "will provide relief to between 600 and 700 customers and will provide relief valued at between $21 million and $40 million," the attorney general said.

The state said the New York bank deceived customers about interest rates, including the "payment shock" of rates that climbed "when an initial teaser rate expired."

Some customers, the state said, qualified for loans only at the teaser rate, but not at the adjusted rate that would be in effect "for most of the loan's term."

"Morgan Stanley's deceptive practices hurt Nevada homeowners and played a role in our economy's decline," Cortez Masto said.

"This is the first step in the right direction to protect consumers and put an end to this financial firm's egregious behavior," she said.


Google starts second solar panel fund

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Internet giant Google said it was willing to finance solar housing projects for as many as 3,000 homeowners with a $75 million fund.

The Mountain View, Calif., company that installed solar panels on its headquarters roof in 2007 said it was starting the fund to help homeowners with initial costs for $30,000 projects with little or no down payment required from the homeowner, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The project has been put together with the San Francisco company Clean Power Finance.

Google said it would be the owner of the solar panels and that "maintenance and performance are taken care of by Clean Power Finance and its network of installers." The monthly payment, Google said is "often less than paying for electricity from the grid."

The plan calls for Google to be repaid by customers who buy electricity created by the solar panels.

In June, Google established a $280-million fund in a similar project put together with California solar installation firm SolarCity, the newspaper said.


Premiums for family heathcare up 9 percent

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Family health insurance costs for U.S. employers rose higher than they have since 2005 this year, two non-profit groups announced Tuesday.

Family insurance premiums rose on average from $13,770 per family to $15,053, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust said.

The increase of more than 9 percent was covered by both employers and employees. On average, employers paid $10,944 of the premium, while employees contributed $4,129, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Foundation, said, "The pain factor is pretty high right now."

"A big premium jump is especially tough for workers and employers when they're facing a faltering recovery, but it's really tough for workers when wages are declining in real terms," he said.

The groups based their data on a survey of 3,184 public and private employers.

But the pain factor has not been felt by insurance companies, who report employees are using healthcare services at rates that are less-than-forecast.

As such, premiums have risen and so have profits at insurance firms. Revenue at healthcare facilities, meanwhile, is also lower than expected.

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