Gold heads for fourth straight week of losses, and other top news stories of the day.
Gold Set for Fourth Week of Losses
Gold prices are set for their fourth straight week of losses, reports Reuters, remaining unchanged early Friday after hitting a two-month low on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Weak economic data from China and the Euro zone drove down prices, which have also been negatively affected by climbing U.S. Treasury yields, said Reuters, which forecasts an overall bearish trend for gold.
Asian Stocks Extend Decline
Asian stocks fell Friday, according to Bloomberg News, extending the biggest weekly decline of the year following a downbeat report from China’s third-largest bank. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.7 percent by midday in Tokyo after Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. posted disappointing earnings, raising concerns over slowing growth in China. According to Bloomberg, more than half of Asian companies that reported earnings since January have fallen below estimates.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.9 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 0.5 percent.
Mortgage Rates Top 4 Percent
An improving economy has pushed the rate for a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage back over 4 percent for the first time in five months, according to the Chicago Tribune, which notes that despite the increase, rates remain attractive by historic standards.
Rates averaged 4.08 percent this week, up from 3.92 percent last week and 4.81 percent a year ago, said the Tribune, citing data supplied by Freddie Mac. Rates for a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.30 percent, compared to 3.16 percent last week and 4.04 percent a year ago.
Bank of America Tests Alternative to Foreclosure
About 1,000 Bank of America customers will be given the option to remain in their homes and become tenants in lieu of foreclosure, The New York Times reports. The pilot program offers homeowners forgiveness of mortgage debt in exchange for title to the property. The bank would then allow homeowners to rent the property for up to three years at rates below the monthly mortgage payment.
Through the “Mortgage to Lease” program, Bank of America would eventually sell the homes to outside investors, said The Times. The bank has already begun inviting participants in the test markets of New York, Nevada and Arizona.
Online Rentals to Outstrip DVDs
The entertainment industry is expected to hit a historic tipping point this year when transactions for online videos exceeds those for physical copies, according to a report released Thursday by the research firm IHS iSuppli and reported in CNN Money. Demand for online videos is forecast to grow 135 percent to 3.4 billion this year, far exceeding the 2.4 billion for DVDs and other physical video formats, according to the IHS forecast. Last year, transactions for physical videos were 2.6 billion, compared to 1.4 billion for online views.
Streamlining subscription services from Netflix, Amazon, Prime and other companies helped drive paid online movie consumption, according to CNN Money.
Shares Double for Etch-A-Sketch Company
Shares in the maker of Etch-A-Sketch more than doubled today as the iconic toy became a symbol for “do-over” political rhetoric in the Republican presidential race, according to a report in USA Today. Stock in Ohio Art peaked at $12.50 before closing at $9.65 in the company’s biggest intraday rise in more than 30 years.
The company’s fortunes rose on Wednesday’s gaffe by Eric Fehrnstrom, strategist for front runner Mitt Romney, who likened the fall campaign to an Etch-A-Sketch, a drawing device that can be shaken to give a clean slate. Democrats and rival Rick Santorum played on the remark most of the day, while Fehrnstrom made light of events, tweeting that he would mention Mr. Potato Head next, said USA Today.