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August 17, 2010 08:59 AM

Morning Business Brief

  • Wall Street has taken a breather after four straight losing sessions. Stocks ended the day basically flat on Monday, amid continued uncertainty over the state of the economy. The Dow fell just over a point, to 10,302. The S&P 500 was up a fraction at 1,079, and the Nasdaq gained 8 points to 2,181.
  • Traders will have another key reading on housing activity to consider today, when the Commerce Department releases its report on July home construction. Construction plunged in June to the lowest level since October. Also today, the Labor Department reports on wholesale inflation, and the Federal Reserve reports on industrial production for July.
  • Homeowners continue to fall behind on their mortgages at a stubbornly high rate. The credit reporting agency TransUnion says that in the three months ended June 30, 6.67 percent of mortgage holders 60 days or more behind on their payments was . That's a big jump from 5.81 percent in the second quarter of last year, and well above the historical norm of 1.5 percent to 2 percent.
  • The government is taking a look at reducing its role in the mortgage market. A conference at the Treasury Department today is seen as a first step toward restructuring the nearly $11 trillion industry. In prepared remars, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the failures that produced the current system were bipartisan, and the solution must be too.
  • Most world markets have been posting modest gains today. Europe's major indexes opened on the rise, while most Asian markets were up. Japan's Nikkei and benchmarks Singapore and Taiwan slipped. Futures are point to a positive open on Wall Street.

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