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UPI NewsTrack Business

March 4, 2013 at 12:30 PM   |   Comments

Markets down Monday

NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes slipped Monday, following downturns in Asia and Europe.

In late morning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 20.51 points or 0.15 percent to 14,069.15.

The Standard and Poor's 500 dropped 0.87 points or 0.07 percent to 1,517.16.

The Nasdaq composite gave up 2.76 points, or 0.09 percent, to 3,166.98.

The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 8/32 to yield 1.875 percent.

Against the dollar the euro was lower at $1.2995 from Friday's $1.3014. Against the yen, the dollar was down to 93.34 yen from 93.64 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent on a gain of 45.91 points, to 11,652.29.

Although the Nikkei was up slightly, most major indexes were lower following news that China's manufacturing sector was at a four-month low and unemployment was at a record 11.9 percent in the eurozone.


Banks report on seized military homes

WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- Four large U.S. banks seized more than 700 homes of active-duty military personnel after the housing bubble burst, their reports to regulators say.

The New York Times reported Monday that Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup uncovered hundress of cases of wrongful foreclosures of military personnel that occurred between 2009 and 2010.

The Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had ordered the largest mortgage lenders to hire independent consultants to review mortgages after the controversy erupted in 2010 over banks hiring so-called foreclosure mills to handle a mountain of delinquent loans.

That review proved to be expensive and so slow that regulators moved to reach a settlement with the banks to provide relief for homeowners quickly.

But banks continued a review of loans to military personnel, looking for violations of the federal Servicemembers Federal Relief Act, which requires a court review of any foreclosures involving military personnel.

Reports were sent to regulators last week and are likely not to be released to the public because the numbers are vague and could be misinterpreted, the Times said.

Banks all along had contended that despite the mistakes made by foreclosure mills very few people were actually evicted wrongfully from their homes.

At this point, Bank of America and JP Morgan have reviewed more than 2 million loans.

But the banks all together have found only 20 cases of non-military personnel in which properties were foreclosed even though homeowners were current on their payments.

Other findings included over-charging lenders. But wrongful evictions among non-military loans were few, the banks reported.

Still, lawmakers could seize on the new reports and demand a tougher response than the settlement that included $3.6 billion in cash relief and $5.7 billion worth of other compensation for 4.2 million homeowners.

"It's absolutely devastating to be 7,000 miles from your home fighting for this country and get a message that your family is being evicted," Col. John S. Odom Jr., a retired Air Force lawyer who now represents military members in foreclosure cases, told the Times.

"We have been sounding the alarms that the banks are illegally evicting the very men and women who are out there fighting for this country. This is a devastating confirmation of that," he said.


China set for 2014 maiden flight of C919

BEIJING, March 4 (UPI) -- China announced Monday its first jumbo jet, the C919, is set for its maiden flight next year as planned.

The design of the C919's airframe has been completed and ground tests of the plane's major equipment will start, said Wu Guanghui, the jet's chief designer at the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

China.orgn.cn reported the country has invested more than $1.6 billion in its jumbo jet program since last year when headquarters and assembly lines were established in Shanghai.

The program, which would reduce China's dependence on foreign aircraft manufacturers, calls for making both the C919 and the ARJ-21 regional jet, Ma Jun, chief engineer of Shanghai's information technology commission said. The project also calls for construction of the fourth and fifth runways at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport, which will become the testing ground for the C919.

The report said the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China plans to assemble 150 C919 planes by 2020. It said all facets of the process, from design to sourcing and production, would be done in China.


Some suggest Romney rescue Detroit

DETROIT, March 4 (UPI) -- Political pundits have proposed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder choose former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to serve as Detroit's emergency manager.

Dave Weigel, writing for Slate, an online publication, first proposed the idea, The Detroit News reported Monday.

Washington Post writer Charles Lane on Sunday repeated the proposal that Snyder give the job to Romney, noting the former GOP presidential candidate 's experience at Bain Capital as a turnaround expert.

Romney is also familiar with Detroit. "He has got the expertise, he's a hometown guy, and he is kind of a political free agent at this point," Lane said.

Snyder has painted a picture of who is is looking for to serve as the turnaround artist for Detroit, which is the largest city to ever have the state move in and declare a fiscal emergency.

"It's a person who has been successful in terms of using interpersonal skills in a very, very challenging situation that involves many different constituencies or different groups," Snyder said.

Snyder said he would also name a person who "has extensive financial and legal backgrounds that doesn't need to get up to speed in terms of the challenges and issues about dealing with long-term liabilities and tax issues or getting up to speed with the facts of this situation. And it's someone who's got a track record of making decisions."

The state said on Feb. 19 that Detroit had a $327 million deficit and $14.9 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

By declaring Detroit in crisis, the state's next step is to name an emergency manager for the city.

A manager who is decisive and has thick skin would be appropriate for the job, many have said.

Bob Daddow, Oakland County's deputy executive, who served on the financial review teams for Pontiac and Flint and helped craft Public Act 4, says he's not sure who Snyder has in mind for Detroit.

"It's got to be a strong person, someone willing to take criticism, someone with a good restructuring background. They need somebody here who is really special." said Bob Daddow, deputy executive of Michigan's Oakland County.

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