FORECLOSURES SOAR AS HOME PRICES FALL FASTER: In a bad omen for sellers and lenders this spring home-selling season, the erosion of house values is accelerating and foreclosure filings are doubling, new data showed Tuesday. A closely watched index of home prices in 20 cities fell almost 13 percent in February from a year earlier, a record for the seven-year-old S&P's/Case-Shiller Home Price index. The report follows news that foreclosure filings from January through March also hit a new high, and comes a day after the government said the number of vacant homes on the market also hit a record. David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, said
17 of the metro areas the index tracks reported record annual home price declines, led again by Miami and Las Vegas. Charlotte, N.C., was the only city to post an annual gain of 1.5 percent, but Blitzer noted that Charlotte was the last city in the index to reach its peak. The lopsided market means home buyers with good credit have many options.
COUNTRYWIDE FINANCIAL REPORTS $893M LOSS: Countrywide Financial Corp. said Tuesday that it lost $893 million in the first quarter as rising loan defaults amid a deepening housing downturn forced the nation's largest mortgage lender and servicer to increase sharply its provision for loan losses and book other credit-related charges. The company said its loss amounted to $1.60 per share for the quarter ended March 31. A year earlier, it earned $434 million, or 72 cents per share. Revenue plunged 72 percent to $679 million from $2.4 billion in the year-ago quarter.
DEMAND FOR GASOLINE DECLINES: Oil prices fell more than $3 a barrel Tuesday as the market absorbed data showing demand is falling even as supplies are rising. A monthly Energy Department report said demand for finished petroleum products dropped 8.5 percent in February from January, and demand for gasoline fell 6.2 percent. Though some of that drop can be attributed to February being a shorter month, it suggests high prices are cutting Americans' appetite for fuel.
BEE NEWS SERVICES
53.4: Percentage of C-level U.S. executives (CEO, CFO, CIO, owner-partner) who say they want to take their business completely virtual in the next five years, according to a survey conducted by TIE Commerce and The Mishra Group
30.1: Percentage of U.S. executives who say they would take their company virtual now if their business could afford the cost.
42: Percentage of affluent U.S. households (households with $500,000 or more in investable assets) that are likely to change their budget and spending habits because of the economic climate, according to Spectrem Group
6: Percentage who fear they'll lose their jobs
UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE