- - Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MORTGAGES

Late payments rise again in fourth quarter

NEW YORK — Late payments on mortgages ticked up in the last three months of 2011, the second straight quarter-to-quarter increase after nearly two years of steady decline.

Credit reporting agency TransUnion said 6.01 percent of mortgage holders were behind on their payments by 60 days or more in the October-to-December period. That compared with 5.88 percent for the third quarter of 2011.

To be sure, the rate is down significantly from the fourth quarter of 2010, when 6.41 percent of mortgage holders were behind by two or more months. But the uptick is still unwelcome news.

Before the housing bust, the mortgage delinquency rate typically hovered around 2 percent.

What’s more, while the national rate fell from the prior year, 18 states showed delinquency increases from the 2010 period. Leading the increases was a big jump in New Jersey, where the rate went to 8.32 percent from 7.43 percent.

ECONOMY

Philly Fed boss warns against speeding recovery

NEWARK, Del. — The head of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank warned Tuesday against efforts to accelerate the nation’s economic recovery, citing the threat of inflation.

Speaking at the University of Delaware, Charles I. Plosser said the Fed already has taken several steps to help revive the economy, and that with a very accommodative monetary policy already in place, officials must guard against the medium- and longer-term risks of inflation.

“Inflation risks in the near term, I think, remain modest,” he said. “However, I do remain concerned that monetary policy actions have exposed us to substantial inflation risks over the medium and longer term.”

Mr. Plosser noted that the Fed has kept the federal funds rate near zero for more than three years to support the economic recovery. The Fed also has conducted two rounds of asset purchases that have more than tripled the size of its balance sheet and changed its composition from short-term treasuries to longer-term treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.

HEALTH

Drug-maker Roche warns of counterfeit cancer drug

The maker of the best-selling cancer drug Avastin is warning doctors and patients about counterfeit vials of the product distributed in the U.S.

Roche’s Genentech unit says the fake products do not contain the key ingredient in Avastin, which is used to treat cancers of the colon, lung, kidney and brain.

Doctors who suspect they have received counterfeit drug should contact the Food and Drug Administration’s criminal unit or Roche quality assurance department. The company said any patient taking Avastin who experiences side effects should contact a doctor immediately.

The company says the counterfeit products do not have Genentech printed on the packaging, which appears on all FDA-approved packages of the drug. Additionally, real Avastin contains a six-digit lot number with no letters. All the text on the product’s packaging should be in English.

HONDA

5 states may intervene in Honda hybrid settlement

SAN DIEGO — A judge Tuesday granted California and four other states more time to consider objecting to a class-action settlement between Honda Motor Co. and car owners over inflated fuel-efficiency claims about the automaker’s hybrid vehicles.

The states’ sudden interest in the proposed settlement came shortly after Honda owner Heather Peters won $9,867 in small claims court, much more than the couple hundred dollars cash the settlement is offering.

Attorneys general in California, Iowa, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington asked last week - only two days before the deadline - for more time to consider the settlement with about 200,000 Honda owners.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor granted the states an extension until Feb. 29, but only after questioning why they missed the deadline when dozens of opponents didn’t. The states were notified of the settlement in October.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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