May 13th, 2009
12:37 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Home foreclosures up 32%

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Foreclosures in April jumped 32%, exceeding even March's blistering pace, with a record 342,000 homes receiving notices of default, auction notices or undergoing bank repossessions.

One of every 374 U.S. homes received a filing during the month, the highest monthly rate that RealtyTrac has recorded in four-plus years of record keeping.

There were also 63,900 bank repossessions, the last stop in the foreclosure process. More than 1.3 million homes have now been lost to foreclosure since the market meltdown began in August 2007.

Consumers pulled back last month

Retailers logged a second straight month of sales declines in April as consumers continued to pull back on all types of unessential purchases.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 0.4% last month, compared with March's revised decline of 1.3%.

Wall Street retreats

Stocks on Wall Street slumped at the open following those reports showing weaker retail sales and a larger number of foreclosures in the first month of the second quarter.

Trading was choppy Tuesday amid investor caution after a roughly 2-month rally that propelled all the major stock gauges by at least 30%.

Intel hit by record fine

European regulators slapped Intel with a record fine of $1.45 billion today after a nearly 8-year long antitrust case.

The European Commission said Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, violated European antitrust laws by unfairly paying computer makers to delay or even cancel products that contained chips made by rival AMD.

The fine, which could have been as high as $3.8 billion, trumps the $1.2 billion fine levied by the EC against Microsoft in 2008 after the software giant was accused of pricing out rivals and refusing to comply with the court's previous antitrust decision.

Freddie Mac asks for another $6 billion

Troubled mortgage finance company Freddie Mac is asking for another $6.1 billion in government aid Tuesday, after reporting a $9.9 billion quarterly loss.

Including the most recent request, Freddie Mac has drawn $51.7 billion of its $200 billion lifeline from the Treasury Department. Last quarter, when it reported a loss of $23.9 billion, the company asked the government for $30.8 billion.

Quarterly results at Freddie Mac, which was taken over by the federal government in September, were dragged down by rising credit losses and writedowns on the deteriorating value of its mortgage-backed securities.

FDA warns Cheerios on health claims

The Food and Drug Administration is chiding Cheerios for making false claims about the popular cereal's health benefits.

The federal regulatory agency questioned General Mills' claims that Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal can help lower cholesterol and treat heart disease.

"You can lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks," says the label on Cheerios' boxes.

A warning letter to General Mills posted on the FDA's Web site Wednesday said only FDA-approved drugs are allowed to make such claims.

Cheerios maker General Mills is defending its heart health claim, saying that it has been FDA-approved for 12 years and the message about lowering cholesterol has appeared on Cheerios boxes for more than two years.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Wall St.
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