- - Monday, November 19, 2012

U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose solidly in October, helped by improvement in the job market and record-low mortgage rates.

The increase along with a jump in homebuilder confidence this month suggests the housing market continues to recover.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales rose 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.79 million. That’s up from 4.69 million in September, which was revised lower.

The sales pace is roughly 11 percent higher than a year ago. But it remains below the more than 5.5 million that economists consider consistent with a healthy market.

MORTGAGES

As part of settlement, banks cut mortgage balances $6.3B

LOS ANGELES — Five of the biggest U.S. banks have cut struggling homeowners’ mortgage balances by $6.3 billion, part of a total $26.1 billion in home loan relief provided under a landmark settlement over foreclosure abuses.

More than 309,000 borrowers received some form of mortgage relief from March 1 to Sept. 30, according to a report issued Monday by Joseph Smith, monitor of the settlement.

STOCKS

Apple climbs; analyst calls two-month sell-off ‘insane’

NEW YORK —Shares of Apple jumped nearly 6 percent Monday, with one analyst calling a two-month sell-off in shares of the most valuable company on earth “insanely insane.”

After hitting an all-time high of $705.10 on the day the company launched the iPhone 5, Apple’s stock slumped into correction, and then into bear territory, down nearly 21 percent from that September high.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White, who sees insanity in the stock plunge, believes that the sell-off over the past eight weeks is overdone. He cites new “blockbuster” products for the holiday season —including the iPad Mini — as reasons for buying the stock.

FISHING

Countries OK continued strict limits on tuna catch

Story Continues →