Fed Creams Former Peanut Butter Execs
According to a newly unsealed federal indictment, former owner of Peanut Corp.
of America, Stewart Parnell and brother Michael Parnell former supervisor, as
well as Samuel Lightsey a onetime plant operator and Mary Wilkerson a former
quality-assurance manager, all face 76-count indictment for fraud in connection
with a salmonella outbreak blamed for nine deaths and hundreds of illnesses. A
Food and Drug Administration probe alleged the company knowingly released
salmonella-contaminated peanut products into the food supply in at least 12
instances during 2007 and 2008. Charges in the indictment include shipment
fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Following Federal Reserve meeting minutes released on Wednesday and topped off
with weak economic data released Thursday, the CBOE Volatility Index, aka. VIX
also known as the 'fear index', is on track for its largest weekly increase in
the past 17 months. During recent market action, the VIX increased by almost
8.9% to 15.98, setting the stage for a 28% gain on the week, the largest weekly
rise since late September 2011 when the index rose to just over 33%.
U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday that the number of people who applied
for new unemployment benefits rose 20,000 to 362,000 in week ended February 16.
The average of new claims over the past month rose by 8,000 to 360,750, putting
it at the highest level since the first week of the year. Continuing jobless
claims rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.15 million in the week ended
February 9. Based on more complete data collected at the state level, initial
jobless claims from two weeks ago were revised higher to 342,000 from an
original reading of 341,000.
According to a report released Thursday, the National Association of Realtors
reported sales of existing home sales moves slightly higher by 0.4% in January.
NAR said sales increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million in
January from 4.9 million in December. Nationally, home inventories fell 4.9% or
25% year-on-year to 1.74 million, which is the lowest level seen since December
1999. January supply, at the current sales pace, was the lowest since April 2005
at 4.2. Marking the 11th straight month of year-on-year gains, compared to
January 2012, the median home sales price rose 12.9% to $173,600.
According to data released Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association,
delinquency rate for home mortgages hit the lowest level since 2008, at the end
of 2012. The delinquency rate covers loans that are at least one payment past
due, but not yet in the foreclosure process. At the end of Q4 2012, 3.74% of
loans were in the foreclosure process, for the lowest rate seen since Q4 2008
and lower by 64 basis points from same period in 2011. Serious home mortgage
delinquencies, loans at least 90 days past due or in the foreclosure process,
during Q4 the rate reached 6.78%, down 95 basis points from same period in 2011.
The percentage of loans on which foreclosure actions were started was 0.70% in
Q4 for the lowest rate seen since Q2 2007, down 29 basis points from same period
in 2011. At the end of the Q4 2012, a seasonally adjusted 7.09% of all
outstanding mortgages for one-to-four-unit residential properties were
delinquent. According to MBA, the delinquency rate was down 49 basis points from
the same period in 2011.
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