CBS tells broadcasters to call the Redskins whatever they want; Swiss Bank UBS nears asset record of $2 trillion. News from the busy world for the busy investor.
Foreclosures at Lowest Level in Eight Years
RealtyTrac, a foreclosure sales and analytics company, reports that foreclosures filed in June were at the lowest level since July of 2006, which was before the housing bubble burst. Foreclosure activity has been falling steadily during the recovery, but this is a remarkable low for the transaction. “Over the next six to nine months, nationwide, foreclosure numbers should start to flat line at consistently historically normal levels,’’ said RealtyTrac representative Daren Blomquist in a statement. There continues to be a wide disparity between states in terms of foreclosures, with nine states seeing a rise in foreclosure activity through the first half of 2014. Those states include New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Florida still has the highest rate of foreclosures, with one in 74 housing units receiving some sort of filing against it.
UBS Nears Asset Record
Swiss bank UBS is nearing $2 trillion in assets under management following a 15.4 percent growth in its wealth management business in 2013. If the growth rate continues, the bank could become the first $2 trillion wealth manager, according to data firm Scorpio Partnership. UBS currently manages $1.96 trillion in assets. UBS beat expectations with its first quarter net profit, which came in at 1.05 billion Swiss francs, translating to $1.2 billion in American dollars. Scorpio said the world’s top 25 private banks by assets experienced an average growth of 11.3 percent in 2013. Bank of America Merrill Lynch runs second in assets, with Morgan Stanley third.
McDonald’s Franchisees Sense Trouble
A new Janney Capital Markets report says McDonald’s franchisee sales outlook for the next six months is the worst it has been in more than a decade. The report caused a sudden drop in stock prices in trading Wednesday. When asked to rate their forecast from 1 for poor and 5 for excellent, the franchisees reported an average of 1.84. That is the lowest level since the firm began polling franchisees in 2003. “It is striking to hear the franchisees so concerned about the direction of the business,’’ said Janney restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski. “I think that gets to a lot of challenges that McDonald’s is facing. Franchisees said the complex menu, the economy and marketing mistakes have led to the concern.
Chinese Energy Company Plans Floating Natural Gas Plant
Chinese energy company CNOOC Group is looking into building a multi-billion dollar floating liquefied natural gas vessel that could produce gas from the deep waters of the South China Sea. The technology for such a vessel is yet untested. CNOOC admitted a feasibility study is underway. Such ships are ocean-based liquefaction plants that can be positioned above reserves to extract gas and load it into tankers for delivery. The idea is to tap remote fields for gas that were previously unreachable. Approximately 10 such facilities are being planned, with the largest owned by Royal Dutch Shell to produce gas from an offshore Australian field by 2017.
Jobless Down, Housing Starts Down
The Labor Department Thursday reported the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week, suggesting a labor market recovery. But the Commerce Department reported that U.S. Housing starts and building permits were well down in June, suggesting the housing market recovery is stalling. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000 for the week ending July 12. Economists had expected a rise in jobless claims to 310,000. Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department reports groundbreaking for new homes declined 9.3 percent in June to the lowest level since December. Economists had expected housing starts to rise in the last month.
You Decide What to Call Them
CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus told the Hollywood Reporter he is leaving it up to the company’s game announcers to decide what to call the Washington National Football League team during broadcasts. The team name “Redskins’’ is under attack from critics who say it demeans Native Americans. “We haven’t talked to them yet,’’ McManus said in the interview. “Generally speaking, we do not tell our announcers what to say or not say. Up to this point, it has not been a big issue for us. Now it is reaching a hotter level. But we probably will not end up dictating to our announcers whether to say Redskins or don’t say Redskins.”