Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top News - WSJ & NYT

Borrowers Miss Out in Billions in Savings
The Federal Reserve has pushed mortgage rates to near half-century lows, but millions of U.S. homeowners haven't benefited from that because they can't—or won't—refinance.Falling home prices have left many owners with little or no equity, making it harder to qualify for refinancing. Moreover, stricter lending standards and higher fees by banks and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and declining incomes have made it tougher and less attractive for borrowers to seek new loans.

Apple sues HTC for Alleged Patent Violations
Apple alleged numerous patent violations in lawsuits against HTC Corp., a Taiwan-based manufacturer of smart phones. HTC makes several phones that run Google's Android operating system, including the Nexus One phone that Google is selling directly to consumers.Apple's two complaints—filed Tuesday in federal court in Delaware and the U.S. International Trade Commission—allege HTC devices, including the Nexus One, infringe a total of 20 Apple patents. The complaints claim the patents cover an array of cellphone technologies, everything from power-management functions to a method of unlocking a handset with a finger swipe on a touch screen.

Private Sector Sheds 20,000 Jobs
Private payrolls fell less than expected in February and layoff announcements dropped to their lowest level since 2006, according to data released Wednesday.Private-sector jobs in the U.S. fell 20,000 in February, according to a national employment report published Wednesday by payroll giant Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers.
The ADP loss is below the 50,000 drop projected by economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey. The estimated change of employment for January 2010 was revised down, from a decline of 22,000 to a decline of 60,000.

U.S. Postal Service Pushes to End Saturday Deliveries
The U.S. Postal Service stepped up its campaign to end Saturday deliveries to help stem losses, but the move met with skepticism that signals an uphill battle for approval by regulators and Congress.Postal officials sought support for a broad restructuring from a gathering in Washington on Tuesday that included big postal clients, congressional aides and postal workers' labor representatives. Without the restructuring, the agency potentially faces $238 billion in projected losses in the next 10 years, Postmaster General John E. Potter warned as he released assessments of the agency's operations from three consulting firms.

Britain Grapples With Debt Problem
LONDON — As Greece’s debt troubles batter the euro, Britain has done its utmost to stay above the fray.
Until now, that is. Suddenly, investors are asking if Britain may soon face its own sovereign debt crisis if the government fails to slash its growing budget deficits quickly enough to escape the contagious fears of financial markets.The pound fell to $1.4954 on Tuesday, its lowest level against the dollar in nearly 10 months. The yield on 10-year government bonds, known as gilts, slid as investors fretted that Parliament would be too fragmented after a crucial election in May to whip Britain’s messy finances back into shape.

WSJ plans New York edition
News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch confirmed Tuesday that The Wall Street Journal will launch a section devoted to covering New York next month, in the company's first public acknowledgment of the project. The planned section will put the Journal squarely in competition with established New York media organizations, including the New York Times Co. and News Corp.'s own New York Post.The new section comes more than two years after News Corp. bought the Journal's parent company, Dow Jones & Co., and set out to broaden the readership and advertising base of the paper to compete with general-interest national newspapers including the New York Times and Gannett Co.'s USA Today.

Beige Book Finds Economy Improving
U.S. economic conditions kept improving slightly at the start of 2010, but the blizzards that hit the East Coast in February hurt several areas, the Federal Reserve said in a report Wednesday.In its latest beige book report, the Fed said nine out of its 12 regional districts reported that economic activity improved, but in most cases the increases were modest, with activity held back by the Feb. 4-7 and Feb. 9-11 snowstorms.
The beige book is a summary of economic activity prepared for use at the U.S. central bank's next policy-setting meeting, March 16. The latest report, prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, examined economic conditions across the Fed's districts based on information collected on or before Feb. 22.

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