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Feb 10, 2010

MarketWatch: Personal Finance Daily, February 10,2010

Personal Finance Daily
FEBRUARY 10, 2010

Wednesday's Personal Finance stories

By MarketWatch

Don't miss these top stories:

There's so much to worry about these days -- the job market, the housing market, the stock market -- it's easy enough to forget about the risks of identity theft. Until it happens to you. Then it's just about impossible to stop thinking about it, because every time your mail arrives or the phone rings, it could be news from yet another creditor demanding payment for an item you never bought.

Read Jennifer Waters' Consumer Watch story today for the nightmarish details of one man's experience with identity theft. It's a bleak reminder to check your computer's firewall and anti-malware software as soon as you get home.

Of course, there are many types of identity theft. If my credit card gets stolen, a quick call to my card issuer will put the matter to rights (though, inevitably, the cost of fixing that type of fraud is eventually borne by consumers in higher fees and costs). But when someone steals your entire identity, the time and money, not to mention the stress, to sort it all out can be steep.

Just one more expense none of us needs right now.

-- Andrea Coombes , Personal Finance editor

Identity fraud nightmare: One man's story

Identity theft and fraud have ruined Dave Crouse's life. In fewer than six months, some $900,000 in merchandise, gambling and telephone-services charges were siphoned out of his debit card.
See Consumer Watch.

Protect yourself from ID theft

With identity theft and fraud hitting record levels, Jennifer Waters talks with Kelsey Hubbard about what's behind the growth.
 Watch Video Report.

New credit-card tricks

The new credit-card rules that go into effect on Feb. 22 are supposed to protect you, but will they? Here are four ways to watch what's in your wallet. Andrea Coombes reports.
 Watch Personal Finance Minute.

Doing the math on coupons

Clipping coupons hardly sounds like the subject of high finance-or even medium finance. Save a dollar on cat food, some detergent or a couple of boxes of cereal. Who can be bothered? Who has the time?
See Brett Arends.


Job seekers who don't network miss out on company referral programs

With job openings few and far between, it's more important than ever that job seekers' strategy is on target -- and networking should be the basis of that strategy.
See Careers.


After trend of rising prices, some housing markets see about-face

One in five housing markets entered a second leg of home price declines in late 2009, after showing price increases for nearly half of last year, according to a report released Wednesday by, a real-estate Web site.
See Real Estate.

Mortgage applications for home purchases fell 7% last week

The volume of mortgage applications filed last week fell a seasonally adjusted 1.2%, compared with the week before, due to a drop in applications for mortgages to purchase a home, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported on Wednesday.
See Mortgages.


Blizzard slams air traffic, disrupts commuters

The second blizzard of 2010 gained strength Wednesday from Baltimore to Boston, freezing flight schedules, knocking out electrical power and stranding commuters throughout the Northeast corridor.
See Travel.


Like it or not, tech is taking over your car

Who's really driving your car? In an ominous line from the classic 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey," a computer named HAL 9000 claimed it was "by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."
See Ahead of the Curve.

Toyota woes lead to bargains from rivals

Prices on Toyota's vehicles, not surprisingly, have slipped in light of the recalls, but rivals have also slashed their prices to capitalize on a rare period of weakness for the world's biggest carmaker.
See Ahead of the Curve.

The end of the fix-it-yourself car

Even as computers have revolutionized car safety, efficiency, and performance, they've made those same cars increasingly hard to fix, and robbed arm-chair mechanics of the thrills of tinkering in the garage. WSJ's Andy Jordan reports.
 Watch Video Report.


Fed exit timing to depend on data: Bernanke

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a statement Wednesday that the timing of the end of record-low interest rates would depend on economic conditions, but the Fed would be ready to move.
See The Fed.

Senate jobs bill snagged by snow

Congressional plans to move a job-creation bill this week hit a snag on Wednesday as the second major winter storm in less than a week slammed the nation's capital and shut down the Senate.
See Capitol Report.

Obama's small-bank proposal faces tough battle

Small town banker Marc Green in rural Georgia is enthusiastic that the White House proposal to help community banks lend to small businesses could pump tens of thousands of dollars into his bank and enable him to turn that money around to local enterprises.
See Capitol Report.

CNBC Brief Evening Brief


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Google Goes Broadband
The latest on Google's plans to go broadband, with CNBC's Jim Goldman.
» Watch Video 

Toyota VP on Recalls
Insight on the pedal recalls, with Bob Carter, Toyota Motor vice president and CNBC's Phil LeBeau.
» Watch Video
Fed's Exit Strategy
Keys to the Fed's exit strategy, with CNBC's Steve Liesman.
» Watch Video 

Honda Widens Airbag Recall
Honda's recall of over 400,000 cars globally due to defective airbags is just a garden variety recall, says Erich Merkle, president of He tells CNBC's Martin Soong and Kaori Enjoji why. Merkle also assesses the road ahead for rival, Toyota.
» Watch Video

Gata Dispatches: China orders retreat from risky assets

China orders retreat from risky assets

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Telegraph, London
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
China has ordered managers of its vast currency reserves to withdraw from risky dollar assets and retreat to core debt guaranteed by the US government, a clear sign that Beijing is battening down the hatches for fresh trouble on global markets.
A Communist Party directive leaked to the Chinese-language edition of the Asia Times said dollar reserves should be limited to US Treasuries or agency mortgage debt such as Freddie Mac that enjoys Washington's implicit backing.
BNP Paribas said the move has major implications for global risk assets. "The message from Beijing is that we don't like this environment," said Hans Redeker, the bank's currency chief.
"When the world's biggest investor turns risk-averse, that is something you take notice of. We think this could become the new theme for the markets in the medium-term," he said.
The directive covers both the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) and China's state-controlled commercial banks. Together they have an estimated $3 trillion of foreign holdings.
The exact breakdown of China's holdings are a state secret but it is understood that SAFE bought large amounts of corporate debt as well as municipal and state bonds during the boom years of 2006 and 2007. Any move to liquidate holding of California debt at this crucial juncture could have serious implications.
The exact motives for China's shift of strategy are unclear. Analysts say the authorities may fear that the end of quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve could cause risk spreads to widen sharply, triggering heavy losses. The shift in policy appears unrelated to the US spat with China over Taiwan.
SAFE has some very sophisticated economists. The chief investment officer of its reserve management department is Changhong Zhu, until recently head of derivatives for the hedge fund operations of the giant US financial group PIMCO, and viewed as one of the "rock stars" of the global hedge fund industry.
The move by Beijing comes at a time when China's current account surplus is falling. This reduces reserve growth, reducing the supply of global liquidity.
Mr Redeker said this will have the paradoxical result of boosting the dollar. Flight from risk can lead to an automatic rise as hedge funds, banks, and investors across the world cut back leverage on dollar balance sheets.
David Bloom, head of currencies at HSBC, said the explosive dollar rally over the last six weeks has been the reversal of the dollar carry trade. "It has been short, sharp, and vicious. People borrowed in US dollars to invest in places like Brazil, Turkey, and New Zealand and now it is unwinding."
"We don't think the dollar rally is going to last much beyond the first quarter because we're in a new world of rotating sovereign crises where politics matters again. It's Greece right now but it could be the UK next, and then US which has yet to take any steps at all to tackle it fiscal deficit," he said.

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The Economist Daily news Analysis, February 10th, 2010


Daily news analysis

ASIA: The Koreas

North Korea's regime stumbles 

An embarrassing climb-down puts North Korea's Kim Jong Il in a difficult positionFeb 10th 2010
BUSINESS AND FINANCE: Toyota's ongoing troubles

It's not stopping... 

More recalls deliver further blows to Toyota’s battered reputationFeb 9th 2010
ASIA: Sri Lankan politics

Arrest the opposition 

Sri Lanka’s president cracks down on opponents once moreFeb 9th 2010
EUROPE: Ukraine's presidential election

Orange squashed 

Viktor Yanukovich seems the likely winner of Ukraine’s presidential electionFeb 8th 2010
INTERNATIONAL: The coming days

The week ahead 

More anxieties about Europe's battered economiesFeb 7th 2010
UNITED STATES: American jobs figures

Falling flat 

More evidence that America is experiencing a jobless recoveryFeb 5th 2010
BUSINESS AND FINANCE: The oil industry

Beyond the black stuff 

Big Oil is being forced to rethink its futureFeb 4th 2010
BUSINESS AND FINANCE: Toyota’s troubles deepen

No quick fix 

The damage to Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, may be lastingFeb 4th 2010

Forbes. com, : E-commerce, February 10, 2010


Out With The Old At Aol
Taylor Buley
Layoffs begin at the Internet company.

Google Conquers Time
Quentin Hardy
Real-time search, translation, location--everywhere?

Murdoch 1, Google 0
Oliver J. Chiang
The Internet giant released new tools that give news publishers more control over the search engine.

Digg Bets Big On A New API
Taylor Buley
The social media company aims to make developing for its platform easier.

The Pirate Bay's Heir Apparent
Andy Greenberg
As the world's biggest file-sharing sites clean up or shut down, all eyes are on Isohunt.

Business Today: Stock futures cut gains after comments on Greece

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Good Morning Fernando, WED 10 Feb 2010 
Stock futures cut gains after comments on Greece
Euro zone holds intensive talks about Greek rescue
Home loan demand drops despite drop in rates
Honda expands airbag recall as more Toyotas probed
Sprint posts narrower loss but revenue falls
Wyndham profit beats estimates; triples dividend
Discovery profit up with international business
UnitedHealth increases share buyback program
Inside Toyota's epic breakdown
Oil rises above $74 on dollar weakness

Stock futures cut gains after comments on Greece
February 10, 2010 08:16 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures lost strength on Wednesday with S&P 500 futures briefly turning negative after a German government official said there had been no decision on providing aid for debt-troubled Greece.

Full Article
Euro zone holds intensive talks about Greek rescue
February 10, 2010 08:21 AM ET
BERLIN/ATHENS (Reuters) - Euro zone countries were holding intensive talks on Wednesday about a possible financial rescue for debt-stricken Greece as civil servants staged the first major strike against Athens' crisis-driven austerity plan.

Full Article
Home loan demand drops despite drop in rates
February 10, 2010 08:11 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. mortgage applications dipped last week, reflecting reduced demand for home purchase loans even as rates on 30-year loans fell to their lowest since December, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.

Full Article
Honda expands airbag recall as more Toyotas probed
February 10, 2010 08:14 AM ET
TOKYO/DETROIT (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co said it would recall another 440,000 cars around the world for faulty airbags as rival Toyota Motor Corp faced further probes over its largest-ever safety crisis.

Full Article
Sprint posts narrower loss but revenue falls
February 10, 2010 08:36 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp posted a narrower fourth-quarter loss on Wednesday, but revenue fell 7 percent even as the company's loss of bill-paying cellphone customers was slower than expected.

Full Article
Wyndham profit beats estimates; triples dividend
February 10, 2010 08:28 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wyndham Worldwide Corp , franchiser of Days Inn, Ramada and Super 8 hotels, posted better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday and said it was tripling its quarterly dividend.

Full Article
Discovery profit up with international business
February 10, 2010 08:15 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Discovery Communications Inc reported a 46 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit on the back of strong distribution revenue and advertising sales in its international TV business.

Full Article
UnitedHealth increases share buyback program
February 10, 2010 07:33 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group Inc said on Wednesday that its board had significantly increased the health insurer's stock buyback program.

Full Article
Inside Toyota's epic breakdown
February 09, 2010 06:18 PM ET
TOYOTA CITY, Japan/DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp, the world's most dominant and profitable automaker, was not accustomed to outsiders telling it what to do, let alone some obscure bureaucrat from the United States, whose own car industry was on taxpayer-funded life support.

Full Article
Oil rises above $74 on dollar weakness
February 10, 2010 06:31 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil rose above $74 a barrel on Wednesday, bouncing from earlier losses, as the euro extended gains against the dollar on hopes for a bailout for Greece.

Full Article