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HSBC has agreed to pay a $470 million settlement to the US government and states related to dubious mortgage lending and foreclosure practices that contributed to the financial crisis.
The agreement includes a $100 million fine and $370 million in consumer relief to borrowers.
Investigations began in 2010 after the bank was found to be signing off foreclosure documents without proper review.
In a statement, HSBC CEO Kathy Madison called the agreement a “positive result.”
The consumer relief will require the bank to cut the loan amount on mortgages for homeowners close to default.
HBSC will also be required to change internal practices like foreclosing on homeowners who are being considered for a loan modification.
“The agreement is part of our ongoing effort to address root causes of the financial crisis,” said the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division Benjamin Mizer.
The deal settles claims with 49 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government.
HSBC’s agreement is similar to deals that were given to US banks including JP Morgan and Bank of America in 2012.
According to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, US house prices rose 12.4% over the 12 months to the end of July, the biggest annual increase since February 2006.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index measures single-family home prices across 20 cities, with 13 cities showing a rising annual growth rate.
Last week, the US Federal Reserve decided to maintain its effort to boost the economy, which involves buying $85 billion worth of assets every month.
That scheme, known as quantitative easing (QE), is credited with boosting the housing market last year by driving down mortgage rates to record lows.
However, David Blitzer from S&P Dow Jones Indices said that effect had worn off.
US house prices rose 12.4 percent over the 12 months to the end of July 2013
“Following the increase in mortgage rates beginning last May, applications for mortgages have dropped, suggesting that rising interest rates are affecting housing.
“The Fed’s announcement last week that QE3 bond buying will continue for the time being may have only a limited, though favorable, impact on housing,” he said.
Prices rose 0.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis in July compared with the month before, which was lower than analysts’ forecasts and down from June’s increase of 0.9%.
Las Vegas saw the biggest annual gain of 27.5%, while San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego all saw rises of more than 20%.
But the survey points out that house prices in those cities are still well below the peaks hit before the 2008 financial crisis.
Of the 20 cities surveyed, New York saw the lowest annual increase of 3.5%.
Detroit, which filed for bankruptcy in July, saw an annual growth rate of 16.9%. However, the report says that Detroit is the only city where house prices are still below the levels reached in January 2000.
Swiss National Bank has announced a loan it granted to bail out troubled bank UBS in 2008 has been repaid.
The development means UBS can now buy back the once-toxic assets taken out of the bank at the height of the financial crisis.
The assets, worth $38.7 billion at the time of the bailout, have since become profitable.
UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, has already said it plans to buy them back.
It described the buy-back as an “important step which will close this chapter in the firm’s history with a positive outcome”.
Swiss National Bank has announced a loan it granted to bail out troubled bank UBS in 2008 has been repaid
It would mark a significant milestone in the recovery of the bank, and Switzerland’s wider banking sector, following the banking crisis during which UBS came close to collapse.
In later 2008, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) was forced to set up a stabilization fund into which illiquid assets could be transferred.
The SNB said the price UBS will pay for the assets will be determined by a valuation from independent agents.
The fund’s equity amounted to $5.5 billion at the end of 2012.
Banks in Europe and the US are still recovering from the financial crisis, with bailout money still to be repaid and many governments still heavily invested in their banking sectors.
The European Central Bank said on Friday that banks would return a further 654 million euros in crisis loans issued in 2011 and 2012.
More than 1trillion euros was lent out by the bank, and more than a quarter has so far been repaid.
In his first major speech on the financial crisis, Pope Francis has called on world leaders to end the “cult of money” and to do more for the poor.
Free market economics had created a tyranny, in which people were valued only by their ability to consume, the pontiff told diplomats in the Vatican.
“Money has to serve, not to rule,” he said, urging ethical financial reforms.
Meanwhile, the Vatican’s own bank announced it would publish its annual report for the first time.
The Institute for Works of Religion, which has been at the centre of various financial scandals in recent years, is to hire an external accountancy firm to ensure it meets international standards against money laundering.
The bank would launch a website and publish its annual report in an effort to increase transparency, new president Ernst Freyberg said.
The institute is considered one of the world’s most secretive banks.
In his first major speech on the financial crisis, Pope Francis has called on world leaders to end the “cult of money” and to do more for the poor
Pope Francis said life had become worse for people in both rich and poor countries.
In a biblical reference, the pontiff said the “worship of the golden calf” of old had found a new and heartless image in the current cult of money.
He added that reforms were urgently needed as poverty was becoming more and more evident.
People struggled to live, and frequently in an undignified way, under the dictatorship of an economy which lacked any real human goal, Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis made his remarks during an address to newly accredited ambassadors to the Holy See.
The new pontiff, who took over from Benedict XVI in March, is renowned for his efforts of tackling poverty in his native Argentina.
The pontiff has previously said that the Church has a special duty to defend the poor.
“I would like a Church that is poor and is for the poor,” he said following his election as head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics two months ago.
The Pope said he had chosen the name Francis in a direct reference to St Francis of Assisi, the Italian founder of the Franciscan Order who was devoted to the poor.
President Barack Obama has decided to give 5% of his salary back to the government to show solidarity with the federal workers who took pay cuts during the sequester.
According to White House sources, Barack Obama will surrender 5% of his compensation in an effort to do his part during the period of fiscal cutbacks, the Associated Press reported.
The president’s move comes as hundreds of thousands of public service workers will be sent home without pay for a number of days over the next six months in an effort to cut spending.
President Barack Obama will give 5 percent of his salary back to the government to show solidarity with the federal workers who took pay cuts during the sequester
The US President’s annual salary is $400,000, meaning that a 5% pay cut would amount to $20,000 for the year.
That said, it is unclear whether Barack Obama will extend this measure so that it lasts a year, and he will only likely continue it as the sequester is in effect.
As a result, the cut will be retroactive, starting at the beginning of this month as that is when the sequester went into effect.
The cut will amount to about $1,666 per month.
Barack Obama isn’t the only politician making an effort to show solidarity with his lesser-paid colleagues, as a bevy of other Democrats have done the same.
According to USA Today, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his deputy director Ashton Carter have announced that they will not accept a portion of their salaries during the period of the sequester.
They did not specify how much of their salary they will be giving up.
Senators Claire McCaskill and Mark Begich- both Democrats- have publicly stated that they will be making similar gestures. Cynics could take issue with Mark Begich’s involvement, as he announced plans to work with Republican Senator Tom Coburn to figure out areas to cut the projected $85 billion in spending that is needed to help fix the country’s financial crisis.
Adding to his possible motives, it also comes the year before he is up for re-election in Alaska.
There have not been any reports of Republicans making similar gestures.
US economy has added 157,000 jobs in January 2013, which was slightly below forecasts, but the number of new jobs at the end of 2012 was revised up significantly, official data has shown.
In November and December, the Labor Department’s revised figures showed that 127,000 more jobs were created than initially thought.
But the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% in January, from 7.8% in December.
In 2012, an average of 181,000 jobs a month were created, the data showed.
The news helped lift shares on Wall Street to levels not seen since before the financial crisis. In early trading the Dow Jones index rose above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007.
The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households, while the job creation figure is taken from a survey of employers.
On Wednesday, government data indicated that the US economy unexpectedly shrank at an annualized rate of 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, an industry survey on Friday said that the US manufacturing sector grew in January at the fastest pace for nine months.
The latest purchasing managers’ index from financial data firm Markit rose to 55.8 last month, up from 54 in December. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
US economy has added 157,000 jobs in January 2013, which was slightly below forecasts
Markit said that its latest survey “suggests the underlying health of the industrial sector continues to improve, and rising production will help the economy return to growth in the first quarter, provided there are no set-backs in coming months”.
The Labor Department said that in January, jobs were created in retail, construction, healthcare and wholesale trade, but jobs were lost in transportation and warehousing.
Employment in retail rose by 33,000, compared with an average monthly gain of 20,000 in 2012.
Employment in construction rose by 28,000. The Labor Department said that the industry had created 296,000 jobs since falling to a low in January 2011, but added that the current level of employment was still some two million below its previous peak in April 2006.
Healthcare added 23,000 jobs in January, while wholesale trade added 15,000.
There was little change in manufacturing employment, which has been essentially flat since July 2012.
On the downside, couriers and messengers lost 19,000 jobs, after strong seasonal hiring in November and December came to an end.
Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank in New York, said: “Like most of our jobs reports, it seems like every month, there is something for everybody in this one – there are positives and negatives.
“It was certainly below expectations and a slight negative that we saw a tick up in the unemployment rate from 7.8% to 7.9%, especially with the labour force participation rate staying where it is, which suggests there aren’t a vast influx of those unemployed/underemployed coming back being job seekers. That was disappointing.”
Carmaker Ford shares have fallen 3.9% in early Wall Street trading on the rising cost of fixing its European business.
Ford cautioned that 2013 losses in Europe would be $2 billion, greater than its previous $1.5 billion estimate.
The stock market reacted negatively, despite Ford reporting profits for the last three months of 2012 that beat expectations thanks to strong US sales.
Earnings after tax for the quarter were $1.6 billion, with underlying profits up 55% from the same period in 2011.
Revenues rose 5% overall, driven by a 13% rise in North America.
Ford boasted that its North American unit had enjoyed its most profitable fourth quarter and year since it first began recording the region’s performance in 2000.
The contrasting fortunes of the number two US carmaker on either side of the Atlantic reflect the broader market trends. While total US car sales hit a post-financial-crisis high last year, 2012 sales in Europe fell more than 8% from the previous year.
Ford shares have fallen 3.9 percent in early Wall Street trading on the rising cost of fixing its European business
Ford, like many rivals, is in the process of downsizing its European business to reflect the shrinking market, with resulting losses due to redundancy payments and the write-off of the value of factories and other assets it owns in the region.
The company said these costs were turning out to be more than expected, thanks to the strength of the euro and the higher valuation of employee pension claims. It has also marginally cut its forecast for total European sales in 2013.
To add to the firm’s woes on the continent, chief financial officer Bob Shanks admitted to investors that the delayed launch of the new Mondeo in Europe would cost Ford several hundred million dollars in missed revenues.
Bob Diamond, Barclays Bank chief executive, has resigned with immediate effect.
The move follows the resignation of chairman Marcus Agius and comes less than a week after Barclays Bank was fined a record amount for trying to manipulate inter-bank lending rates.
Bob Diamond said he was stepping down because the external pressure on Barclays risked “damaging the franchise”.
British PM David Cameron has described the rigging of Libor rates as “a scandal”.
“I am deeply disappointed that the impression created by the events announced last week about what Barclays and its people stand for could not be further from the truth,” Bob Diamond said in a statement.
Bob Diamond, Barclays Bank chief executive, has resigned with immediate effect
He will still appear before MPs on the Treasury Committee to answer questions about the Libor affair on Wednesday.
“I look forward to fulfilling my obligation to contribute to the Treasury Committee’s enquiries related to the settlements that Barclays announced last week without my leadership in question,” Bob Diamond said.
Last week, regulators in the US and UK fined Barclays £290 million ($450 million) for attempting to rig Libor and Euribor, the interest rates at which banks lend to each other, which underpin trillions of pounds worth of financial transactions.
Staff did this over a number of years, trying to raise them for profit and then, during the financial crisis, lowering them to hide the level to which Barclays was under financial stress.
The Serious Fraud Office is also considering whether to bring criminal charges.