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UPI NewsTrack Business

Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:59 PM   |   Comments

Markets close out 2012 with a bounce

NEW YORK, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. markets jumped Monday on encouraging news about a budget deal in Washington that would avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

President Barack Obama said Monday afternoon that a deal was not done, but was "within sight." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., later said a deal on taxes was done and an overall deal was "very, very close," MarketWatch reported.

Major market indexes rose early, but gains picked up in the afternoon. By the close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average had gained 1.28 percent or 166.03 points to 13,104.14, closing up 7.3 percent for the year.

The Nasdaq gained 2 percent or 59.20 points to 3,019.51, gaining 16 percent since the first of the year.

The Standard and Poor's 500 added 1.69 percent, 23.76 points, to 1,426.19, a gain of 13 percent in 2012.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,642 stocks advanced and 447 declined on a volume of 3.1 billion shares traded.

The 10-year treasury note was off 17/32 to yield 1.761 percent.

The euro fell to $1.3204 from Friday's $1.3217. The dollar rose to 86.73 yen from 85.97 yen.

Markets in Japan were closed for a bank holiday.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 0.47 percent, 72.56, to 5,897.81.


Banks close to $10B foreclosure settlement

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Banking regulators are close to signing a $10 billion deal with 14 banks to settle charges of foreclosure abuses, sources told The New York Times.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is spearheading the settlement, four separate sources told the Times. The charges settled would include cheating homeowners out of due process during foreclosure and other bank actions, such as excessive fees, that may have forced homeowners from their homes.

The deal involves the five largest lenders -- Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial -- that agreed to a $26 billion settlement in April with state attorneys general, the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Times reported.

The new deal designates a larger share of funds to go directly to homeowners who have been evicted than the deal settled in April -- $3.75 billion compared with $1.5 billion.

The bulk of both settlements, however, is to go to people whose loans are on the brink of falling into foreclosure. That is to go to lowering principle and other forms of payment relief.

The agreement, which is expected to be announced Thursday, also cancels a mandate by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Comptrollers Office that banks hire consultants to review about 4 million loans looking for bank errors that created hardship, including foreclosures, for homeowners.

That review was expected to take about 8 hours per loan at the cost of $250 per hour. The reviews, however, are taking about 20 hours per loan and they have not yielded the results regulators expected.

The reviews were expected to turn up bank errors that helped create massive numbers of foreclosures since 2007, when the housing bubble burst, creating a financial crisis that turned into an global economic downturn.

To date, the reviews have cost banks about $1.5 billion.


Britain's EU membership revisited

LONDON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Business lobbyists in Europe are proposing Britain reduce its membership status in the European Union, but keep ties to the EU under a new designation.

The Daily Telegraph reported Monday that the Union of European Federalists has proposed that Britain be offered an "associate membership," which would keep Britain involved, but cancel its veto power with the European Council and its commissioner in Brussels.

The idea is to prevent Britain from leaving the European Union, so it could keep the trade benefits of the EU, but reduce its role as a spoiler. Currently, the UEF said, British Prime Minister David Cameron is viewed as a "continual impediment" to EU affairs, given the European Union has been moving toward more integration on financial and budgetary matters.

Cameron believes a new EU treaty will be required to make tighter integration possible, which would represent an opening for the creation of an associate membership status, the newspaper said.

"If David Cameron proposes a catalogue of opt-outs, derogations, red lines and rebates for Britain to pick and choose, then he will strengthen the argument for a formal association for the U.K.," said Andrew Duff,.a Liberal Democrat Party member of Parliament and the president of the UEF.

The UEF is an umbrella organization that represents 19 organizations from across Europe.


Survey measures airlines on rudeness

NEW YORK, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- A survey of flyers found American Airlines was the most-criticized U.S. airline when judging the rudeness of its employees.

The survey conducted by Airfarewatchdog.com found 25 percent of its 1,000 respondents indicated American Airlines had the rudest personnel.

United Airlines was mentioned by 21 percent of the respondents, coming in second in terms of rudeness. In third place was Delta Airlines, with 18 percent of respondents indicating it had the rudest personnel. Twelve percent named US Airways.

Last on the list were Alaska and Frontier Airlines.

Employees' time working for larger airlines is more likely to include layoffs, pay cuts and trouble with pension funding and other benefits, website founder George Hobica said. More of the larger airlines have personnel that have survived a company bankruptcy, he said.

"It's not surprising. The older worker has had a rougher ride," Hobica said.

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