Less than a year after the collapse of MF Global, the brokerage industry is reeling anew from revelations that more than $200 million in customer funds is missing from the accounts of futures broker PFGBest, and that its founder attempted suicide outside the company’s Iowa headquarters, Reuters reports. PFGBest clients will be allowed to liquidate open trading positions, but not to withdraw funds or make new trades until further notice. The National Futures Association (NFA), an industry regulatory group issued an emergency order to effectively freeze PFGBest's operations after finding that a U.S. bank account the broker said contained $225 million in customer funds actually held only $5 million. Owner Russell Wasendorf Sr., a 40-year futures markets veteran, was found in his car, and is in critical condition at the University of Iowa Hospitals, according to local news reports.
UK Judge: Samsung Can Sell Its “Not as Cool” Tablets in the UK
There was good news and bad news for Samsung. The company on Monday prevailed in a London court over Apple’s legal move to block the sale of its tablet computers in the UK. Apple had claimed three models of the Galaxy Tab too closely resembled the design of the iPad. But Judge Colin Birss ruled that the company’s Galaxy Tabs were “not as cool” as Apple’s iPads and that here were noticeable differences between the tablets in terms of their thickness and the designs on the back, the Financial Times reported. Apple has been waging a global patent battle since 2010 against companies such as Samsung which produce rival tablet computers and mobile phones using Google’s Android operating system. Such devices are the biggest commercial threat to Apple, and rivals have accused the US company of using its patents aggressively to disrupt their sales, FT reports. Last month, an appeal coirt lifted the ban on Samsung Galaxy phone sales in the U.S., But it upheld a block on sales of Samsung’s tablets. A full court trial is scheduled for the end of July.
Chinese Firm to Buy Hawker Beechcraft
Hawker Beechcraft announced Monday that a pending deal with a Chinese aerospace manufacturer will save thousands of domestic jobs in Kansas and Arkansas. The struggling aircraft maker said it had reached a $1.79 billion "exclusivity agreement" for the sale of its business jet and general aviation operations with Beijing-based aerospace manufacturer Superior Aviation Beijing Co., Ltd., which will make payments over the next six weeks to support ongoing operations until the deal is finalized. The sale does not include Hawker Beechcraft Defense Co., which will remain a separate entity, the Associated Press reports. The company employs about 7,400 people, with roughly 4,700 working at its Wichita, Kan., facility. It also has factories in Little Rock, Ark., the U.K. and Mexico, as well as more than 100 service centers worldwide.
Bailout Negotiated for Spain’s Banks
More than $36 billion could be channeled to Spain’s struggling banks by the end of this month, according to the terms of a tentative bailout agreement reached early today among Euro area finance ministers, The New York Times reports. The agreement is scheduled for a final vote on July 20. The agreement would also provide a one-year extension to a deadline for reducing Spain’s budget deficit, according to The Times.
CFPB Proposes More Transparent Mortgage Documents
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed rules to increase clarity and fairness in mortgage lending, The New York Times reports. The rules, released yesterday, are designed to provide consumers a simple declaration of payments and fees associated with their loans.
Among other provisions, the rules would require lenders to issue an estimate of interest paid over the life of the loan. The statement, due within three days of receiving a mortgage application, must inform consumers of the risks posed by negative amortization loans and other types of risky mortgages, according to The Times. Consumers would also be informed of any potential fees, such as prepayment penalties.
Rocky, but Uphill Road for Markets
Analysts predict the stock market will realize a double digit gain this year, but expect the second half to be rougher than the first, CNNMoney reports, citing its survey of 30 investment strategists and money managers. The group predicts the S&P 500 index will gain 4 percent over the next six months to finish at 1,400, according to CNNMoney. In comparison, the index gained 8 percent in the first two quarters of 2012. Economic and political uncertainty at home, and weakening economies in Europe will continue to undermine investor confidence, leading to market volatility over the next six months.