News Blurbs

Housing on the rise
Home prices are recovering for the first time in six years, thanks to property demand and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to push mortgage rates to record lows. Homebuilder shares have almost doubled over the past 12 months. Mortgage rates are currently around 3.4 percent for 30 years, 2.625 percent for 15 years and 2.125 percent for 5-year adjustable rate mortgages.

Buying their way into the UK
The UK made it easier this year for foreigners with over £1 million to invest in the country to obtain long-term settlement visas. Wealthy Russians and Chinese, who consider London as a gateway for European business, took the bait accounting for an 74 percent increase in visas issued. Sweetening the deal was that £250,000 of the £1 million can be an investment in property.

Groupon CEO under the gun
Daily deals company Groupon is scratching its head over lousy growth prospects.  32-year-old CEO and co-founder Andrew Mason, known for being quirky and irreverent, suffered scrutiny at a recent board meeting for everything from hairy accounting practices to a declining stock price, which some argue has finally corrected itself from $26 to $4.

Legislators Hit Impasse in talks

Washington legislators are in a standoff over Fiscal Cliff negotiations. Both parties are haggling over tax cut policies slated to end in January, which if left untended pundits say could set the U.S. economy into a tailspin and recession. Contention among Republicans and Democrats is dispelling initial post-election optimism over a compromise, pitting U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner head-to-head with Republican House Speaker John Boehner

According to Bloomberg, the Obama plan proposes higher taxes on the top 2 percent of earners, along with government spending cuts. A trade of $600 billion in cuts for $1.6 trillion in tax increases would primarily target families with more than $250,000 in annual income. The plan also includes $800 billion in assumed savings from the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...

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News Blurbs

Israel-Gaza conflict ends in cease-fire
A fragile cease-fire was orchestrated between Israel and Hamas, with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi taking the lead amidst negotiations. Though Mursi belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, said to be the political cousin of Palestinian-led Hamas, he has pledged to maintain Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Many are already questioning the balance of power, with Egyptian judges and a recently dismissed Secretary General calling for strikes against his self-decreed new executive, judicial and legislative powers. 

A new golden age?
Investors are once again securing their portfolios with the yellow metal, resulting in a 12-year rally, the longest in nine decades. “We see gold as a hedge against the follies of politicians,” said CIO Michael Mullaney of Fiduciary Trust. Gold is expected to continue its bullish streak well into 2013.

HP writes off $8.8 billion
Shares in Hewlett Packard fell 12 percent after its CEO Meg Whitman announced an $8.8 billion write-off on the value of its $11 billion acquisition of small UK-software company Autonomy. It is alleged that Autonomy participated in “serious accounting improprieties” only recently discovered.

No more Twinkies
Hostess Brands, makers of the iconic Twinkie cream-filled cake, is heading towards liquidation. Negotiations between the company and its baker’s union were unable to reach consensus, leaving 18,500 employees out of work. CEO Gregory Rayburn told Bloomberg he considered this a failure, blaming outdated work rules and inefficient cost structures. Sales were upwards of $2 billion for the year. The company was 93 percent unionized.

News Blurbs

Antivirus software pioneer McAfee sought in murder probe
Police are seeking the former security software pioneer John McAfee in a murder probe over his neighbor’s death in Belize. McAfee, who sold his stake in McAfee, Inc. for $100 million and in 2009 was reportedly worth $4 million, was entangled in disputes with his neighbor who was found dead from a gunshot wound. Since his Silicon Valley days McAfee has started various health- and fitness-related companies.

Microsoft’s Sinofsky departs Windows weeks after Forstall departs Apple
Both men were lauded for their abilities to deliver large, complex projects but also criticized for not playing well with others: Sinofsky was "abrasive" and Forstall "never fit into Apple’s culture." Despite both bandied about as potential CEOs of their respective organizations, more interesting is which companies now dare to enlist their expertise.

New Chinese leadership
Xi Jinping replaced Hu Jintao as leader of the Chinese Communist Party after months of political, economic and social challenges. The leadership council was reduced from 9 to 7 for more "efficient" decision-making, and the surprise move also lands Jinping as the powerful Central Military Commission leader which controls China’s armed forces.

Union-led protests in crisis-ridden Europe
Strikes across Spain, Portugal and Greece against government austerity measures resulted in transportation closures and sporadic violence. The large union-led strike denounced further budget cuts recommended by the European Union. While divisive, austerity measures since 2008 have been an attempt to cure economic distress that has seen Spain’s unemployment rate soar to 25%.

Markets in for an Upswing

No, this isn’t any soothsaying prediction or hocus pocus, but rather attributed to current market stats and economic factors: Current technical indicators are in an “oversold” territory and pretty soon they’ll correct themselves. According to Kevin Flynn in MarketWeek, the “Dow is oversold at 25.9, with the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 in the same neighborhood. The Nasdaq is in correction territory having sold off just over 10% from its September high, and other indices are close behind."

Lawmakers will likely compromise on the Fiscal Cliff. President Obama and House Republicans will likely retain tax cuts for low to middle-income wage earners while increasing taxes on the wealthiest households (perhaps those earning over $1 million per year)...

Excerpt courtesy and copyright of Vestorly.com.