Archive for September, 2011

Kodak shares plummet on restructuring fears

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Finance News

(Reuters)- Eastman Kodak Co shares fell almost 70 percent on Friday afternoon on concerns the photography pioneer could file for bankruptcy.

Kodak has hired Jones Day for restructuring advice, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Representatives of Kodak and Jones Day could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kodak's stock had already hit a 38-year low earlier this week as investors worried about its cash position after the company tapped a credit line for $160 million.

A Bloomberg report citing three people with knowledge of the process said Kodak was weighing options including bankruptcy. Both Bloomberg and the Journal, however, quoted a Kodak spokesman as saying the company had no intention at present of filing for bankruptcy.

The Journal said it was not clear what work Jones Day would do for Kodak.

Kodak shares fell as much as 68 percent to 54 cents on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. The shares were halted after they fell 58.6 percent to 70 cents.

After trading resumed late in the afternoon, the stock was off 54 percent at 78 cents a share.

One shareholder had asked the company's board on Thursday to start a sales process while others said they were unhappy with Chief Executive Antonio Perez.

The company's board is not considering replacing Perez at this time, according to the Journal, which cited two people familiar with the matter.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Matthew Lewis)


Mortgage rates now below even lows of early 1950s

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Finance News

WASHINGTON – Mortgage rates have skated near record lows for weeks. But now it can finally be said: Long-term rates in the United States have never been lower.

This week, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.01 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said in its weekly report. That's the lowest since it began keeping records in 1971.

For months, Freddie had pointed to data from the National Bureau of Economic Research showing that rates were lower in the early 1950s, when long-term mortgages typically lasted just 20 or 25 years.

But Freddie says that's no longer true: Today's average 30-year rate is even lower than the average 20- or 25-year rate was in the 1950s.

The NBER's data show that between July 1950 and February 1951, long-term rates averaged 4.08 percent. Today's average 30-year rate is 4.01 percent. Both are higher once you include the extra fees most buyers pay. Those fees are called points; one point equals 1 percent of a loan amount.

If you include fees and points comparable to today's low rates, the 1950-51 average would be 4.33 percent, Freddie Mac said Friday. Today's average on the 30-year, with extra fees factored in, is 4.17 percent.

The average on a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, also ticked down to 3.28 percent this week. Economists say that's the lowest rate ever for that loan.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has risen this week to around 2 percent. A week ago, it touched 1.74 percent — the lowest level since the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis started keeping daily records in 1962. As recently as July, the 10-year exceeded 3 percent.

Rates on mortgages could fall further after the Federal Reserve announced last week that it would take further action to try to lower long-term rates.

Still, low rates have so far done little to boost home sales or refinancing. Many would-be buyers or homeowners don't have enough cash or home equity to get a new loan.

The Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday of each week.


Sarkozy to meet Merkel in coming days on Greece

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Finance News

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday he would meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the coming days in Germany to discuss Greece's debt troubles, calling support for Greece a "moral obligation" for Europe.

Following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Paris, Sarkozy said he had been reassured by the Greek leader that Athens was determined to deliver on its commitments in return for European aid.

"I will be in Germany in the coming days to continue with Chancellor Angela Merkel the collaboration and coordination works between Germany and France that has ensured the protection of Europe," Sarkozy told reporters at his presidential palace.

He did not elaborate on the timing.

Papandreou, Sarkozy said, had assured him of the "total determination of the Greek government to scrupulously put in place all commitments that Greece has taken on."

"Failure of Greece would be failure for all Europe, there is no other credible alternative," said Sarkozy, who said helping Greece was a not just a "moral obligation" but an economic one.

Earlier this week, Sarkozy said he would discuss details of a new Franco-German approach to solving Europe's debt crisis following Germany's parliamentary vote on Thursday that approved new powers for the euro zone's 440-billion euro ($590 billion) bailout fund.

Although the German 'yes' vote met with widespread relief in markets, the existing European deal reached on July 21 is now widely seen as insufficient to handle a potential debt default by a major European economy such as Spain or Italy.

Despite several rounds of stringent austerity measures, doubts are still hanging over Greece's ability to honor its debt payments on time and a majority of analysts are now convinced that a partial default is inevitable.

Papandreou, who had met Merkel earlier in the week, pledged full transparency in Greece's debt-cutting efforts.

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur, Writing by Alexandria Sage; editing by Brian Love, Ron Askew)