Daily Briefing

DAILY BRIEFING

December 11, 2009

T. Rowe Price plans series of actively managed ETFs

T. Rowe Price Associates plans to launch a series of actively managed exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, according to an application filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Unlike traditional ETFs that tracks an index or a specific industry and traded on exchanges throughout the day, Price's ETFs will be managed by its investment professionals. The Baltimore money manager plans to offer ETFs in bonds, domestic stocks and international stocks.

- Hanah Cho

State says three groups defrauded homeowners

The state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation took action Thursday against three groups of companies and individuals it said defrauded Maryland homeowners. The agency said it suspended the licenses of Rockville-based ATT Mortgage Co. and Shawpin Jong, also known as Steve Chung, and accused the firm of getting at least 11 mortgages for borrowers by submitting false employment information about them. The state also suspended the license of Nicholas Elko, who worked with Baltimore-based Equitable Trust Mortgage Corp., saying he promised to help a homeowner facing foreclosure but instead refinanced the equity out of her house before passing the property along to his mother. The state also issued a cease-and-desist order against the Shmuckler Group, Nova Key and individuals associated with the firms, accusing them of illegally collecting more than $1.2 million in upfront fees from Maryland homeowners for loan-modification help that ended with no results or refunds for most of the clients.

- Jamie Smith Hopkins

Only 4% of mortgage modifications permanent

CHICAGO - Just 4 percent of delinquent borrowers who started trial mortgage modifications under the Obama administration's housing plan have had those more affordable loan terms made permanent, the Treasury Department said Thursday. The monthly progress report on the government's Making Home Affordable modification program shows that mortgage servicers had started 759,058 trial periods with consumers nationally by the end of November. More than 697,000 of them were considered active trial modifications and 31,382 were permanent loan adjustments. This is the first month that the Treasury Department has required mortgage servicers to break out the number of permanent modifications, part of its effort at transparency as it pressures lenders to move more borrowers into permanently affordable loan terms. The data shows while the number of trial modifications is increasing, permanent conversions to more affordable loan terms is running far behind.

- Chicago Tribune

Americans' net worth up for 2nd straight quarter

WASHINGTON - Americans are recovering some of their vast loss of wealth from the recession, thanks to gains in stock investments and home values. Net worth - the value of assets such as homes, bank accounts and investments, minus debts like mortgages and credit cards - rose 5 percent last quarter, to $53.4 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. That was the second straight quarterly increase. Yet even with those gains, Americans' net worth remains far below its revised peak of $64.5 trillion reached before the recession began. That underscores the vast loss of wealth over the past two years. Net worth would need to rise an additional 21 percent just to return to its pre-recession height.

- Associated Press

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