U.S. Market:
AIG - 55.13 +0.15 0.273% Apple - 115.67 +1.04 0.907% Bank of America - 17.20 +0.10 0.585% Cisco - 27.695 -0.125 -0.449% Citigroup - 54.65 +0.29 0.533% Coca-Cola - 43.905 -0.635 -1.426% Facebook - 75.1401 -0.3199 -0.424% Ford - 16.11 +0.21 1.321% GE - 26.375 +0.325 1.248% Hewlett-Packard - 38.885 -0.065 -0.167% Intel - 37.69 +0.09 0.239% JPMorgan - 61.1199 +0.0399 0.065% McDonald's - 95.2215 +0.1115 0.117% Microsoft - 48.17 -0.29 -0.598% Pfizer - 31.38 -0.19 -0.602% Starbucks - 80.32 -0.05 -0.062%

BNP Paribas to buy S.African unsecured lender for $253 mln

French BNP Paribas bank logo is seen at their presentation of their 2010 annual results in ParisBy Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Tiisetso Motsoeneng (Reuters) – BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, has offered to buy South African unsecured lender RCS Group for 2.65 billion rand ($253 million) from clothing retailer Foschini Group and Standard Bank, they said on Thursday. RCS, which offers store credit cards and personal loans and insurance, is owned 55 percent by Foschini and the remainder by Standard Bank, Africa's largest lender. The business would be run by BNP Paribas's Paris-based Personal Finance unit, which said the transaction would be in line with its international growth strategy.


Analysis: Rising prices, harsh winter may dampen U.S. home sales in spring

Single family homes for sale are seen in San MarcosBy Margaret Chadbourn WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Emily Hanson would like to buy a house, but she worries that she and her husband may have to move across the country to achieve their goal. In December, Emily, a 30-year-old student, and Nels Hanson, a 33-year-old software developer, began searching in Boston, where a shortage of homes for sale has driven up prices. The median sale price in the Boston area is $340,000, according to monthly updates on property values by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. "It's basically a question of accepting a smaller home, or one that needs work, or do we uproot ourselves completely, which would entail my husband leaving a job that he loves." The Hansons are far from the only would-be buyers who risk being crowded out by the run-up in home prices and mortgage rates over the past year.


Canada household debt-to-income ratio slips from record high

Condo buildings are seen under in construction in TorontoThe ratio of Canadian household debt to income in the fourth quarter of 2013 slipped to 164.0 percent from a record 164.2 percent in the third quarter, Statistics Canada said on Friday. The ratio is closely watched by government and Bank of Canada officials, who have long fretted about high personal debt levels and a possible housing crash. The Bank of Canada said last week that recent data supported its view that there would be a soft landing in the nation's housing market and the household debt-to-income ratio would stabilize. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said last December that consumers had pushed up their plans to buy houses as mortgage rates started to rise.


Canadian home prices rise in Feb to fresh high: Teranet

A builder works on the the roof of a new home under construction in the Montreal suburb of BrossardBy Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian home prices rose in February, pushing a national index of prices to a record high for the second month in a row, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Wednesday. Price increases are still outpacing income gains by a wide margin in many markets, a situation we deem unsustainable in the longer run," TD Economics analyst Sonny Scarfone wrote in a research note. Canada's housing market has remained stubbornly robust in recent years, notwithstanding a slowdown in 2012 when the federal government tightened mortgage lending rules to prevent home buyers from taking on too much debt to get into the market. While some observers fear the booming housing market – prices rise 26 percent in the last five years, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association – could crash like the U.S. market did in 2008-2009, most economists expect a gradual cooling in demand and prices as mortgage rates rise.


Will Warren Buffett’s investment advice work for you?

Buffett, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, poses for a portrait in New YorkBy Lauren Young New York (Reuters) – In his most recent Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter, the ever-folksy Warren Buffett sounds more like a personal finance guru than a financial mastermind, focusing on buy-and-hold investing and advocating indexing strategies. Buffett's net worth is about $60 billion, according to Forbes magazine, so he is obviously doing something right. Buffett is a longtime fan of Jack Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, who champions passive, low-cost investing. Says Buffett: "I believe the trust's long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals." Face value, that's a solid recommendation, although it might seem a bit odd, considering that Berkshire Hathaway has underperformed the S&P 500 in the past five years, and is trailing it slightly in 2014.


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