Stock prices continue to bounce around today. After dropping 217 points yesterday, the Dow was down as much as 100 points in afternoon trading before recovering somewhat. The S&P and Nasdaq were also down.
- The average American household has only recovered about 45 percent of the wealth it lost to the Great Recession, but America as a whole has regained it all. The Federal Reserve says U.S. household wealth jumped $3 trillion to $70.3 trillion in the first quarter, passing its pre-recession peak of $68 trillion. Affluent households have benefited most because most of the gain has come from higher stock prices.
- Mortgage rates remain low by historical standards, but they are creeping higher. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan jumped to 3.91 percent from 3.81 percent last week. The rate on the 15-year loan rose to 3.03 percent from 2.98 percent. Concerns that the Fed may scale back bond purchases are pushing rates higher.
- Reynolds American Inc. has revamped its electronic cigarette. The company is launching its Vuse e-cigarette in Colorado and is planning to expand nationally. The battery-powered cigarettes heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. Reynolds says while many smokers are trying e-cigarettes, few switch entirely.
- The border village of Belcoo is looking good these days as Northern Ireland prepares for the upcoming G-8 summit. But critics say that's a problem. Belcoo has been hit hard by the collapse of Ireland's Celtic Tiger economy and some shops now stand empty. Summit organizers have put window-sized posters depicting fully stocked shelves and crowds of customers on two derelict buildings to make them appear like thriving businesses. One former shop owner says it amounts to a lie and covers up the reality of hard times.