Archive for July, 2008

London shares close higher (AFP)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 | Finance News

Blue chips closed higher as Wall Street remained firmer, with Rexam, Admiral and Aviva all continuing to gain after positive earnings news.

At close, the FTSE 100 index was up 101.5 points to 5,420.7, near a session high of 5,319.2.

Vodafone was the most traded stock, seeing 169 million units change hands, followed by Lloyds TSB which saw 143 million shares switch owners.

Insurer Admiral gained 89 pence -- or 10.8 percent -- to finish at 914 pence after reporting a 16 percent rise in first-half profit before tax, beating analysts' expectations. Ferrexpo was next up by 31 pence -- or 11.7 percent -- to stand at 295.25.

Lloyds TSB fell 15 -- or 4.67 percent -- to finish at 306 after reporting a 70 percent drop in its first-half pretax profit, after a 585 million pounds writedown charge as a result of market turbulence.

Drax Group followed loosing 14 pence -- or 1.91 percent -- to end at 719.


Fannie Mae portfolio rose at fastest rate since ’03 (Reuters)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) -
Fannie Mae, the largest provider of
funding for U.S. residential mortgages, on Wednesday said it
grew its investment portfolio in June at the fastest annualized
rate in nearly five years.

Fannie Mae's (FNM.N) mortgage portfolio increased at a 22.8
percent annualized rate to $749.6 billion in June, from $736.9
billion in May, the Washington-based company said in a

The government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) has been boosting
growth in its investments since its regulator earlier this year
began easing requirements on capital it must hold against the
assets. Lawmakers consider such purchases by Fannie Mae and
rival Freddie Mac (FRE.N) as playing a key role in supporting
the U.S. housing market that is going through a wrenching

U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law on Wednesday
a housing bill that includes measures to ensure funding for the
two companies, which have sustained billions of dollars in
losses from rising loan defaults. For details, see:

Serious delinquencies on loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae
jumped to 1.3 percent in May from 1.22 percent in April.

Fannie Mae last registered a faster annual rate of
portfolio growth in September 2003 as falling interest rates
sparked a record boom in refinancing.

Commitments by Fannie Mae to purchase mortgages in future
months declined to $38.3 billion in June -- the third-highest
rate this year -- from nearly $43 billion in May.

(Reporting by Al Yoon; Editing by Tom Hals)


Court reverses convictions of 2 ex-NYSE specialists (Reuters)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) -
A federal appeals court reversed the
convictions of two former New York Stock Exchange floor traders
on Wednesday, the latest blow to a U.S. government case that
had originally charged 15 traders with fraud.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned
the convictions of Michael Hayward and Michael Stern, former
specialists for Van der Moolen Specialists USA, a unit of
Amsterdam-based Van der Moolen Holding NV (VDMN.AS).

In January, the two had each been sentenced to six months
in prison and fined $250,000 after being found guilty of one
count of securities fraud at trial.

In a written order, a panel of three judges on the appeals
court said the evidence against the men "was insufficient to
prove 'deception."'

Hayward and Stern had been specialists on the NYSE trading
floor, responsible for executing trades for NYSE customers as
well as trading their firm's own accounts.

The government originally charged Hayward and Stern, along
with 13 other former NYSE specialists, with fraud for violating
securities law by trading ahead of or between customer orders,
creating millions in illegal profits.

But prosecutors have had mixed results, and Manhattan U.S.
Attorney Michael Garcia
said in November 2006 that he would not
prosecute five of the cases awaiting trial.

Last year, a Manhattan federal court judge tossed out the
verdict against former specialist David Finnerty, who was found
guilty of fraud in October 2006 for allegedly making illegal
trades that cheated the exchange's customers out of $4.5
million. The Second Circuit upheld the judge's decision to
throw out the conviction in a ruling earlier this month, and
cited that decision in its ruling to overturn the case against
Hayward and Stern.

(Reporting by Chelsea Emery, editing by Dave Zimmerman)