Mixed Bank Earnings, Rates Down on Jobless Claims

What time of day am I most likely to have a heart attack? Answer, per a Harvard study, is that the most dangerous times for heart attack, and for all kinds of cardiovascular emergency, are the morning and during the last phase of sleep. The risk averaged 40% higher of having a heart attack between 6AM and noon, but if you calculate only the first three hours after waking, this relative risk is threefold. Fortunately I get up before I am awake in order to get this commentary out every day.

MORE BANK EARNINGS

  • National City posted a $1.76 billion loss, hurt by soaring losses on mortgage and real estate construction loans and a write-down for acquisitions. It is the fourth straight quarterly loss for the Cleveland-based company, one of the nation’s 10 largest banks. Excluding the goodwill write-down, the loss was 94 cents per share, far above analysts’ forecasts of 20 cents per share.
  • How many billions are there out there? I don’t know, but Ford Motor Co., the world’s third- largest automaker, just lost another $8.7 of them in the second quarter, and said it will convert three truck factories to produce small cars as rising gasoline prices sap US truck sales.
  • Credit Suisse posted a smaller-than-expected fall in second-quarter earnings. The Swiss bank’s earnings beat analysts’ forecasts, despite falling 62% to $1.16 billion because of smaller asset write-downs than expected and as its investment bank, private bank and asset management business all posted profits.

JOBLESS CLAIMS & MARKET REACTION

Minimum-wage workers, now paid $5.85 an hour, will begin receiving $6.55 today. The minimum wage, increased to $5.85 last July, will increase to $7.25 an hour next year on July 24, the end of the three-year cycle of increased minimum wages. Speaking of the minimum wage, the Mortgage Bankers Association yesterday announced appointment of former chairman John Courson as chief operating officer, effective Aug. 1. Courson will assume the position of president of MBA effective Jan. 1, 2009, replacing Jonathan Kempner, who will leave his $1.2 million per year MBAA job in December.

Mortgage prices are doing very well this morning – better by .5 in price – after the Housing Bill made headway and Jobless Claims jumped 34,000. The number rose to 406,000 in the week ended July 19, from a revised 372,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. It was the highest reading since late March. The four-week average of new jobless claims, a better gauge of underlying labor trends because it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose to 382,500 from 378,000 the week before. The 10-yr, which had a strong close yesterday, is down to 4.10%, although we still have Existing Home Sales ahead, along with a $21 billion 5-yr note auction. It definitely appears that the housing bill is adding some stability, which is helpful.

MORTGAGE GUIDELINE & REGULATION UPDATE

Washington State will revoke the license of Paramount Equity Mortgage due to its deceptive lending practices. The Roseville, California-based firm was fined $500,000 and required restitution for Washington borrowers. “The state alleges Paramount engaged in a number of deceptive lending practices, including charging and collecting unearned fees, charging consumers to buy down interest rates without actually reducing the rate, failing to make required disclosures and making state and federally-required disclosures in a deceptive manner. Paramount is also accused of conducting a deceptive advertising campaign.”

CalHFA has announced the release of the Community Stabilization Home Loan Program (CSHLP) which CalHFA intends to use to help stimulate and stabilize communities hit hard with real estate owned (REO) inventory. Unfortunately this product is only available to lenders that are directly approved with CalHFA and is not available under the usual Brokered-In process.

Yesterday the House approved their version of the bill, which the press promotes as “providing aid to homeowners facing foreclosure and a federal backstop for struggling mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” The White House dropped its veto threat and signaled that President Bush would sign the bill, despite his opposition to a provision to provide $4 billion to communities to buy and fix up vacant properties. Senate approval could come by the end of the week. House and Senate leaders have largely hammered out a compromise deal on a mammoth housing package that would permit the government to bolster Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an emergency, overhaul supervision of the housing-finance giants and allow the government to insure up to $300 billion in refinanced mortgages. The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that a temporary measure to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could cost the government as much as $25 billion.

JOKE OF THE DAY
Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with that expensive double-pane energy efficient kind, and today, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was complaining that the work had been completed a whole year ago and I still hadn’t paid for them.

Helllooooo? Just because I’m blonde doesn’t mean that I am automatically stupid. So, I told him just what his fast talking sales guy had told me last year, “that in ONE YEAR these windows would pay for themselves!”

Helllooooo? “It’s been a year,” I told him.

There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung-up. He never called back. Guess I won that stupid argument. I bet he felt like an idiot.