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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

August 14, 2014, 1:19 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks are modestly higher on Wall Street. The Dow has been up 40 to 50 points this afternoon, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are also in positive territory. Some analysts have been fretting that stocks look expensive with the S&P near its record high. But Lawrence Creatura at Federated Investors argues that another strong earnings season should put those worries to rest. He notes the S&P's nearly 6 percent gain so far this year is "the average earnings growth rate over the very long term."
  • The most expensive U.S. stock just got a little bit more pricey. Class A shares of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company have topped $200,000 for the first time. Buffett has never split Berkshire's A shares, although he did create more affordable Class B shares which are now selling around $135. The Class A shares are up more than 1 percent in afternoon trading at more than $202,000.
  • Negotiations have apparently ended without success on a private-sector deal to end the legal battle that forced Argentina into default last month. The U.S. investment fund Aurelius Capital Management says it's been in talks with private parties to sell its Argentine bonds at the heart of the dispute. But the company says the offered payments are not "remotely acceptable" and there's "no realistic prospect" for a solution. Aurelius and other U.S. investors are seeking full payment on bonds Argentina defaulted on in 2001.
  • Mortgage rates are approaching their lows for the year. Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year loan slipped to 4.12 percent last week, while the average for a 15-year mortgage fell to 3.24 percent. Mortgage rates are below the levels of a year ago.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says new U.S. auto loans jumped to the highest level in eight years this spring. The gain was fueled by a big increase in lending to risky borrowers. However, the New York Fed says loans to borrowers with shoddy credit, also known as subprime lending, still make up a smaller proportion of total auto loans than before the Great Recession.

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