May 18, 2021

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Mortgage News

Chilly weather endangers SC peach crops; Southwest Air turns a profit with Uncle Sam’s help |

SC peach farmers fear frost damage

LANDRUM – Farmers in South Carolina take precautions against frost, which could damage peach trees and other crops.

Landrum’s Brandon Hyder told WYFF-TV that frost is the greatest threat, but also says there is little he can do other than hope for the best.

Workers have cut the grass around 150 acres of peach trees on Hyder Farms, which Hyder said April 21 would help prevent frost from settling. He and his family also cut trees.

Winds above 10 mph would help keep frost from forming on branches and grass, Hyder said.

Losing a few peaches would be fine, actually. Hyder said some peaches have to be manually picked when there is too much fruit on a branch.

“Obviously we don’t want them all to get frost and be killed, but we would like some of them to be thinned out,” he said. “We’re going to have to do it anyway, so sometimes it’s an advantage.”

Bailout enables Southwest to post profits

DALLAS – Southwest Airlines becomes the first major U.S. airline to make a profit since the pandemic began, as federal payroll helped grow the company to net income of $ 116 million in the first quarter .

Without the federal money, Southwest would have lost $ 1 billion for the quarter.

The Southwest also reiterated the competition, saying that the demand for travel continues to improve. The airline announced on Thursday that vacation bookings within the United States have been improving every week since mid-February.

“While the pandemic is not over yet, we believe the worst is behind us in terms of the severity of the negative impact on travel demand,” CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement.

The Southwest is benefiting more from the leisure travel pickup as its biggest competitors – Americans, Delta, and United States – are more reliant on business travel and long-haul international flights, both of which remain deeply depressed.

Kelly also thanked the federal payroll – the aviation industry has raised $ 64 billion in cash and soft loans over the past 13 months to help cover labor costs.

Southwest had sales of $ 2.05 billion, slightly above forecast of $ 2.03 billion.

American Air loses $ 1.25 billion and delays the jets

FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines announced Thursday that it lost $ 1.25 billion in the first quarter and continued to cut costs, including delaying deliveries of new jets as it waits for air traffic to resume recovered from the pandemic.

CEO Doug Parker said the airline continues to see signs that demand for tickets is improving.

American said it used $ 27 million in cash per day for the quarter, compared to $ 30 million per day in the fourth quarter of 2020. The airline said it had spent more than $ 1.3 billion in 2021. Having lowered dollars, including a new round of voluntary takeovers that will make this possible, resulting in 1,600 employees leaving the company.

Vacation travel in the US has increased lately. This month around 1.4 million travelers fly through airports every day. Still, that’s roughly 40 percent slower than the pre-2019 pandemic pace. American sales were $ 4.01 billion for the quarter, 53 percent less than a year ago.

With less traffic, American Airlines reached a deal with Boeing to delay deliveries of 23,737 Max jets through 2023 and 2024, and to convert five of them to a larger version of the aircraft. American expects to take 14 Max jets in the next 12 months.

AT&T shares rise according to top estimates

NEW YORK – AT&T Inc. stocks rose more than 4 percent on April 22, after the telecommunications giant’s first-quarter results beat analysts’ expectations.

Cellular, its largest unit, added 595,000 customers paying a monthly bill, up from 163,000 in the same period in 2020. It also added 207,000 prepaid phone customers.

In the entertainment unit WarnerMedia, sales rose 9.8 percent to 8.5 billion US dollars. AT&T also gained 46,000 consumer internet customers and lost 620,000 video customers. AT&T is spinning off its DirecTV business after losing roughly 60 percent of its satellite and cable television customer base since purchasing DirecTV in 2015.

The Dallas-based company posted first quarter net income of $ 7.55 billion and sales growth of 2.7 percent to $ 43.94 billion.

Bottlenecks in selling existing homes

NEW YORK – Sales of pre-occupied US homes fell for the second consecutive month in March as there are so few in the market and fierce competition for existing ones is pushing prices to new highs.

Existing home sales declined 3.7% last month from February to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.01 million annualized units, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Sales increased by 12.3% compared to March last year.

The average home price in the US rose 17.2% year over year to $ 329,100, an all-time high. At the end of March, the stock of unsold homes was just 1.97 million. At the current sales pace, which equates to an offer of 2.1 months, the NAR said.

“Demand remains strong,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “It’s just a severe lack of supply that is holding back sales.”

Future buyers in the US are facing perhaps the most competitive market in decades. Every home for sale typically receives multiple bids that are higher than the price, which drives prices even higher overall.

30 year home loans fall below 3%

McLEAN, VA. – Mortgage rates fell for the third straight week, with the benchmark falling below 3 percent for the first time in two months.

Freddie Mac reported April 22nd that the interest rate on 30-year home loans fell from 3.04 percent to 2.97 percent. At that point, the long-term rate last year was 3.33 percent.

The interest rate on a 15-year loan, popular with borrowers looking to refinance, dropped to 2.29 percent from 2.35 percent the week before.

Experts have expected home loan rates to rise slightly in the short term, while remaining low given the Federal Reserve’s goal of keeping its policy rate near zero until the economy recovers from the pandemic.

The court cuts the power of the FTC to make illicit profits

WASHINGTON – A unanimous Supreme Court on Thursday curtailed the Federal Trade Commission’s powers to recover illicit profits and overturned a nearly $ 1.3 billion award against a professional racing driver convicted of defrauding consumers through his payday loan businesses .

The ruling takes away what the FTC has called “one of its most important and effective enforcement tools,” which has recouped billions of dollars over the past decade.

Judge Stephen Breyer, on behalf of the court, wrote that the provision of federal law on which the FTC relied did not empower the commission to seek federal court order to order the refund or disgorgement of profits.

However, Breyer noted that other parts of the FTC law could be used to get a refund for scammed consumers. Acting FTC Chairman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter made a damning statement in response to the decision. Slaughter said the court “ruled in favor of scammers and dishonest companies, and made the average American pay for illegal behavior”.

The FTC accused Kansas-based Scott Tucker of using his payday loan companies to deceive consumers into illegally charging them unrecognized and inflated fees.

Chip shortage halts Jaguar production in the UK

LONDON – Jaguar Land Rover announced Thursday that it would cease production at two UK factories, making it the youngest automaker to fall victim to a global microchip shortage.

Production will cease for a “limited period” from Monday at the Halewood factory near Liverpool and at the Castle Bromwich factory near Birmingham in Central England, without being specific. Production at another plant in Solihull in Central England continues.

The announcement is the latest to highlight the challenge the increasing chip shortage poses to the global auto industry, which is building vehicles that are beginning to resemble computers on wheels.

General Motors and Ford said earlier this month they were being forced to cut production at their North American factories because chip supplies were becoming scarce. Other brands like Fiat Chrysler, now Stellantis, Volkswagen and Honda, are also badly hit by the semiconductor shortages.