Thursday: Foreclosures, Jobless Claims Increase; GM Earns $1.3 Billion Profit
The number of U.S. homes lost to foreclosure rose in July, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday. Lenders repossessed 92,858 properties last month, up 9 percent from June and an increase of 6 percent from July 2009.
California remains the state with the most total filings — 21 percent of the national total and the fourth-highest foreclosure rate in the country. And for the 43rd straight month, Nevada had the highest rate among states, with one in every 82 homes hit with a foreclosure filing.
Marketplace’s Jeff Horwich says even though it’s now the eighth straight month of more U.S. home foreclosures, “there are signs the crisis may start to ease in the months ahead.”
[W]hile actual foreclosures were up, the number of households receiving default notices] continued to fall. That could mean fewer foreclosures down the road.”
NPR’s Tamara Keith says looking at July’s foreclosure report is “a bit like a fun house mirror. Look at it one way, and you see one thing — look at it another way, and the image changes entirely.” One thing is clear, though: “[T]he only way those numbers are going to start falling is for the jobs picture to improve — a lot.”
Speaking of jobs…
Jobless Benefits Rise to 6-month High
Jobless benefits rose last week to the highest level in almost six months, according to a Labor Department report Thursday. First-time claims for jobless benefits edged up by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000. Analysts had expected a drop, reports the Associated Press. It is the highest total since February.
Initial claims have now risen in three of the last four weeks and are close to their high point for the year of 490,000, reached in late January.
GM Reports $1.3 Billion Profit
Updated 1 p.m. | General Motors reported Thursday a $1.3 billion second-quarter profit, a major turnaround from last year, when the U.S. automaker lost nearly $13 billion and went into bankruptcy.
CEO Ed Whitacre also stepped aside just a day before the company’s expected filing for a landmark stock offering that is expected to allow the U.S. government to relinquish its majority stake in the automaker.
Whitacre, who led for just eight months, said he would step down on Sept. 1 and be succeeded by Dan Akerson, a GM board member and a managing director at private equity firm The Carlyle Group.
Whitacre’s departure had been expected but the announcement’s timing was a surprise.
He had said repeatedly that he would be an interim leader at GM.
The profit is GM’s largest since 2004 and marks the first time since then that it has two profitable quarters in a row. GM recorded an $865 million profit for the first quarter. GM received a $50 billion U.S. government bailout last year.
“The results will play a central role in bolstering GM’s case that the auto maker is a good bet for Wall Street as it prepares to start selling its stock to the public. GM is close to registering for an initial public offering, possibly on Friday.”
Blagojevich Jury Appears Deadlocked
The judge presiding over the trial of Rod Blagojevich and the attorneys in the case will return to court Thursday in hopes of getting clarity about the jury’s note hinting there’s disagreement about some of the counts against the former Illinois governor.
The jury asked, “In a situation where jurors cannot agree on given counts what should the next logical step be? We have gone beyond reasonable attempts without rancor. We now ask for guidance.”
The Chicago Sun-Times, which has been blogging extensively about the trial, offers a few things to consider as we wait for the hearing, writing, “In its first communication in eight days, Rod Blagojevich’s jury leaves us with a cliffhanger.”
John Kass of the Chicago Tribune doesn’t know what the note means, either:
“Despite all the theories tossed about after the jury delivered the note Wednesday to U.S. District Judge James Zagel, here’s the thing. … Nobody knows what it means. I don’t. Rod Blagojevich doesn’t. Certainly the lawyers don’t.”
While you’re waiting for the hearing, like everyone else, why don’t you test your knowledge on Blogojevich himself? The New Yorker created this quiz to see how much you know about the man on trial for 24 counts, including bribery, attempted extortion and fraud.
Judge to Issue Decision on Prop 8
For more political news, including Thursday’s highly anticipated federal ruling on California’s Proposition 8, check out The Morning Line.