Mortgage fraud up
The sinking housing market is fertile ground for mortgage fraud, the FBI warns in a report. The agency said Tuesday that reports of suspected mortgage fraud rose 31 percent to 46,717 in fiscal 2007, which ended Sept. 30. That was up from 35,617 in the previous fiscal year. In the first half of fiscal 2008, there were more than 33,000 such reports, quickening the pace of mortgage fraud for this fiscal year, an FBI spokesman said.
Bargains and profits
Solid first-quarter profits from discounters Wal-Mart and TJX show that more people are hunting for bargains as they struggle to cover their monthly credit card payments, put food on the table and gas in the family car. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, posted a 6.9 percent increase in first-quarter profits, helped by improved customer service, better inventory control and strong international sales. TJX Cos., which operates stores under the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods names, said its first-quarter profits rose almost 20 percent, meeting analysts' projections, but slightly below the company's expectations.
Home prices falling in survey of cities
Median home prices fell in two-thirds of the cities surveyed during the first three months of this year and 46 states experienced declining sales, a real estate trade group reported Tuesday. The National Association of Realtors said that median prices for existing single-family homes dropped in 100 of 149 metropolitan areas in the January-March period, 48 metropolitan areas saw prices increase and one reported no change. The price declines in 67 percent of the areas surveyed was the largest percentage of areas reporting declining prices in the history of the Realtors' survey, which goes back to 1979.
HP buying EDS
Hewlett-Packard Co. is buying Electronic Data Systems Corp. for $13.2 billion in a deal that will create the second-largest technology services provider behind IBM. Under the terms announced Tuesday, Palo Alto-based HP will pay $25 per share in cash for EDS, which pioneered the concept of running computer systems and providing other high-tech help for large companies and government agencies. It's a field dominated by IBM Corp.