- - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

FEDERAL RESERVE

Bernanke urges banks to help small businesses

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Wednesday that small businesses are still struggling to get loans more than two years after the recession ended. He said banks could help small businesses by easing lending standards.

“It’s no secret that the past few years have been very difficult for many small firms,” he said in remarks at a Fed conference.

The Fed has been holding training sessions to ensure that banks are meeting the needs of creditworthy business borrowers while maintaining appropriate lending standards, Mr. Bernanke said. Many small businesses have complained that their banks have made it too hard to get loans.

“Small businesses have played an important role in fueling past economic recoveries,” Mr. Bernanke said. “We need to think carefully about how … our nation can best provide small businesses and entrepreneurs with the support they need to expand job opportunities.”

He made the remarks at the start of a two-day Federal Reserve conference exploring ways to help small businesses.

REAL ESTATE

Median home prices fall in most cities

Home prices dropped in nearly three-quarters of U.S. cities over the summer, dragged down by a decline in buyer interest and a high number of foreclosures.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that the median price for previously occupied homes fell in the July-to-September quarter in 111 out of 150 metropolitan areas tracked by the group. Prices are compared with the same quarter from the previous year.

Fourteen cities had double-digit declines. The median price in Mobile, Ala., dropped 17.7 percent, the largest of all declines. Phoenix and Allentown, Pa., Atlanta, Las Vegas and Miami also experienced steep declines.

Double-digit price increases were reported in eight cities. The largest was in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the median price rose 23.7 percent. South Bend, Ind., Palm Bay, Fla., and Youngstown, Ohio, also showed large price increases.

The national median home price was $169,500 in the third quarter, down 4.7 percent from the same period last year.

AUTOMOBILES

550,000 Toyotas recalled for steering issue

TOKYO | Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday that it is recalling about 550,000 vehicles worldwide, mostly in the United States, for problems that could make it harder to steer.

In the U.S., the automaker is recalling 283,200 Toyota brand cars, including the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara, the 2004 Avalon and the 2006 Highlander HV. Its recall of 137,000 Lexus vehicles includes the 2004 and 2005 ES330 and RX330 and 2006 RX400h.

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