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Personal Finance News 05/2008

AIG posts 1Q loss of $7.8B, plans to raise $12.5B in capital (AP)
AP - American International Group Inc. said Thursday that it swung to a first-quarter loss of $7.81 billion because of losses tied to credit swaps and mortgage-related operations and that it plans to raise a total of $12.5 billion in new cash to shore up its capital base.

House passes major housing rescue bill (Reuters)
Reuters - The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation to create a $300 billion mortgage-insurance fund and provide billions more in homeowner aid to stabilize a housing market shaken by a wave of foreclosures and a credit crunch.

US House-approved mortgage crisis bill faces veto (AFP)
AFP - The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that lawmakers hope could stem the tide of home foreclosures due to the subprime mortgage crisis, but it faces a presidential veto.

Citigroup targeting 9 percent revenue growth (AP)
AP - Citigroup Inc. said Friday it is aiming for 9 percent revenue growth as it looks to rebound from recent struggles tied to deterioration in the mortgage and credit markets.

On Wall St: The elephant in the room ( - Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM), the biggest buyer of US mortgages, this week demonstrated why it is the elephant in the room when it comes to the ranks of financial institutions deemed too big to fail.

ALL BUSINESS: Government-backed housing bailout badly needed (AP)
AP - A government-backed mortgage bailout is needed, and it must be done right away.

AIG sees no signs of mortgage asset market rebound yet (Reuters)
Reuters - American International Group , after disappointing with a worse-than-expected loss on Thursday, did little to buoy investor spirits on Friday, telling shareholders it does not yet see signs of a rebound in the market for mortgage assets, which have cost it dearly over the past two quarters.

Mortgage credit losses could total $500 bln: Goldman (Reuters)
Reuters - Goldman Sachs economists expect a total of $500 billion in residential mortgage credit losses, a renewed slowdown in economic activity after the near-term boost from fiscal stimulus, and no monetary policy tightening in 2008 or 2009, according to a research note from the firm.

Countrywide falls on worry over B of A merger (Reuters)
Reuters - Countrywide Financial Corp shares fell nearly 6 percent on Friday on renewed speculation that Bank of America Corp will renegotiate or cancel its agreement to buy the largest U.S. mortgage lender.

Citigroup aims to shed $400 billion of assets (Reuters)
Reuters - Citigroup Inc said on Friday it plans to shed $400 billion of assets within three years and boost revenue by up to 10 percent annually, in a bid to restore profitability after huge losses tied to flagging mortgage and credit markets.

Citigroup to shed nearly $500B in assets (AP)
AP - Citigroup Inc.'s new chief executive, Vikram Pandit, plans to stick with a global banking model after months of intense review — but only after shrinking the company by about one-fifth first.

Citigroup to slash 400 bln dlrs in assets (AFP)
AFP - Citigroup, reeling from the subprime mortgage crisis, said Friday it plans to sell roughly 400 billion dollars in assets in a streamlining reorganization aimed at restoring the US banking giant to profit.

Young widower pushes for change in Mass. life insurance law (AP)
AP - When Jenny and John Crowley learned they were having a baby, they did the responsible thing: they bought life insurance.

Citigroup eyes selling Japan consumer unit: paper (Reuters)
Reuters - Citigroup Inc is considering selling its Japanese consumer finance company CFJ KK or cutting the unit's business significantly as part of its plans to shed assets, Japanese daily Nikkei reported on Sunday.

HSBC says first-quarter profit up, bad debts jump (Reuters)
Reuters - Europe's biggest bank HSBC Holdings said its profit in the first quarter was ahead of a year earlier as growth in Asia and elsewhere helped counter another big hit for bad debts on U.S. home loans.

HSBC says Q1 profit up, bad debts jump (Reuters)
Reuters - Europe's biggest bank HSBC Holdings said its profit in the first quarter was ahead of a year ago as growth in Asia helped counter over $5 billion in hits from bad debts on U.S. home loans and asset writedowns.

HSBC profits up despite $3.2 billion write-down (AP)
AP - HSBC Holdings PLC said Monday that first-quarter profit was better than a year ago, despite a $3.2 billion write-down on subprime mortgage assets in the United States.

PMI Group swings to hefty 1Q loss on defaults (AP)
AP - Mortgage insurer PMI Group Inc. said Monday it swung to a first-quarter loss from year-ago profit, due to hefty payouts on default claims and charges to write off its investment in bond insurer FGIC.

IndyMac loss steeper than expected, shares fall (Reuters)
Reuters - IndyMac Bancorp Inc , one of the largest independent U.S. mortgage lenders, posted a first-quarter loss on Monday as it wrote down bad mortgages and grappled with the cost of cutting jobs and closing offices.

HSBC rebel urges independent adviser for U.S. arm (Reuters)
Reuters - HSBC is underestimating problems at its troubled U.S. consumer finance arm, a rebel shareholder said on Monday and called on the bank to appoint an independent financial advisor to consider options for the unit.

Mortgage cos. reveal damage from housing crisis (AP)
AP - Broad damage in the mortgage industry was in full view Monday as a number of companies posted dismal first-quarter earnings, but there were also some hope that the worst of the housing crisis is over.

Senate panel set for housing vote Thursday: source (Reuters)
Reuters - The Senate Banking Committee is due on Thursday to vote on legislation that would greatly expand a federal housing program and create a new regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a committee source said on Monday.

The Latest Twist in Student Loans (BusinessWeek Online)
BusinessWeek Online - Because of the credit crunch, conventional lenders are making it tough for any but the most creditworthy borrowers to qualify for private college loans. Now, a new breed of student lender is trying to get students to return the snub -- by writing off the Sallie Maes and Citibanks of the world in favor of relying on friends, family, and even perfect strangers to finance their college loans. "It's not a solution to the credit crisis in student loans by any means," says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of financial aid Web site ...

IndyMac slides after analyst says needs capital (Reuters)
Reuters - Shares of IndyMac Bancorp Inc fell as much as 22.5 percent to an all-time low on Tuesday after an analyst said the independent mortgage lender needed to raise significant capital.

Bank of America sees higher home equity losses (Reuters)
Reuters - Bank of America Corp on Tuesday increased its forecast for expected losses from home equity loans, citing the deteriorating U.S. housing market.

Mortgage scams on rise, net millions for fraudsters in US: FBI (AFP)
AFP - Fraudsters netted hundreds of millions of dollars through mortgage scams last year, and the trend was likely to continue as the US housing market slumps even further, the FBI said Tuesday.

Mortgage applications rise in latest week: MBA (Reuters)
Reuters - Mortgage applications rose for a second consecutive week, fueled by a jump in demand for home refinancing loans as interest rates dropped, an industry group said on Wednesday.

US foreclosure filings surge 65 percent in April (AP)
AP - More U.S. homeowners fell behind on mortgage payments last month, driving the number of homes facing foreclosure up 65 percent versus the same month last year and contributing to a deepening slide in home values, a research company said Tuesday.

Freddie Mac loses $151M in 1Q, but beats expectations (AP)
AP - Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said Wednesday its first quarter loss widened to $151 million as the U.S. housing market worsened, though the results were not as poor as expected. Its shares rose more than 8 percent.

Ohio attorney general resigns in wake of scandal (Reuters)
Reuters - Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, who led investigations into companies blamed for the state's subprime mortgage mess, resigned under a cloud on Wednesday after admitting to an affair with a female staff member.

Accounting changes help Freddie Mac 1Q beat views (AP)
AP - Freddie Mac beat Wall Street's expectations in the first quarter, but the mortgage finance company didn't vanquish concerns about its ability to weather the housing bust.

Judge rejects Countrywide's arguments: report (Reuters)
Reuters - Directors and officers of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial must answer shareholder accusations of insider trading and failure to monitor lending practices that led to the company's collapse, a federal judge in California has ruled, the New York Times reported.

Judge: Countrywide shareholders' suit can proceed (AP)
AP - A federal judge has ruled that a shareholder lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corp. executives and directors should go to trial, rejecting several arguments by the troubled mortgage lender to dismiss the case.

Bernanke: Banks need to bolster risk management (AP)
AP - Commercial banks and other financial institutions need to beef up their ability to detect and protect themselves against risks like the credit and mortgage debacles, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday.

Rates on 30-year mortgages fall to lowest point in a month (AP)
AP - Rates on 30-year mortgages edged down this week to their lowest point in a month, a spot of welcome news to would-be home buyers.

IRS says up to 350,000 didn't get child credit (AP)
AP - Up to 350,000 households aren't getting the $300 per child owed them as part of their economic stimulus rebate payments, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

Senators reach deal on housing rescue: sources (Reuters)
Reuters - Leaders of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee have reached a deal on a broad housing rescue plan in which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would provide funds to support a federal mortgage insurance fund, two industry sources said on Thursday.

Stocks rise on oil price drop, mixed economic data (AP)
AP - The stock market notched its second straight daily advance Thursday, with investors assuaged by a pullback in oil prices and some better-than-expected economic data.

SMFG posts big rebound, forecasts modest growth (Reuters)
Reuters - Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (8316.T) reported a threefold increase in fourth-quarter profit, rebounding from massive losses at its consumer finance unit a year earlier, and it forecast modest growth ahead.

Small Business, Big Disaster (BusinessWeek Online)
BusinessWeek Online - Lisa and Robert McIlwain are living a business owner's nightmare. It started when a tornado with 157 mph winds ripped through Fun Zone, their Montgomery (Ala.) skating rink and family entertainment center on Nov. 15, 2006. Although the 31 children and 11 staff members trapped inside the center survived, the 50-employee, $2.5 million business was wiped out. Fun Zone was the only source of income for the couple, who have six children. Their insurance payment went to pay off the mortgage on the damaged property.

April housing starts rise best since Jan 2006 (Reuters)
Reuters - Construction starts on new U.S. homes rose by a surprisingly strong 8.2 percent in April and applications for new building permits turned up for the first time in five months, the Commerce Department said on Friday in a report showing the hard-hit housing sector still had some spring vigor.

US housing starts jump 8.2% in April (AFP)
AFP - US housing starts and permits showed a surprisingly strong jump in April, signaling a glimmer of hope in the troubled housing market, government data showed Friday.

Fannie Mae scraps higher downpayment requirements (AP)
AP - Fannie Mae says it is doing away with higher minimum downpayment requirements for borrowers in distressed real estate markets.

Stocks open flat after housing starts report (AP)
AP - Stocks slipped early Friday as investors' nervousness over a fresh record for oil prices dented some enthusiasm over a surprising jump in new home construction.

Market slips on weak consumer confidence (Reuters)
Reuters - Stocks fell on Friday, after a survey showed consumer confidence tumbled to its lowest in 28 years this month as short-term inflation expectations hit their highest since the stagflationary early 1980s.

Fannie Mae relaxing loan down payment requirements (Reuters)
Reuters - Fannie Mae, the nation's largest source of home financing, said on Friday it is lowering the amount of down payments required on mortgages it purchases, even in areas where home prices are falling.

AOL sheds its brand to draw specialty audiences (AP)
AP - Unless you're looking carefully, you'll likely miss the fact that the new Asylum Web site for young men is a creation of Time Warner Inc.'s AOL. Same for WalletPop on personal finance, Spinner on indie music and StyleList on fashion.

Summer may bring a turning point for stock market (AP)
AP - After nine months of turmoil that started with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, Wall Street appears to be at a turning point of sorts.

AOL sheds its brand to draw specialty audiences (AP)
AP - Unless you're looking carefully, you'll likely miss the fact that the new Asylum Web site for young men is a creation of Time Warner Inc.'s AOL. Same for WalletPop on personal finance, Spinner on indie music and StyleList on fashion.

U.S. senators say have deal on housing rescue bill (Reuters)
Reuters - Leaders of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee said on Monday they had reached a deal on legislation to create a multibillion dollar mortgage rescue fund and a new regulator for housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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