By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve could be key for Wall Street next week as investors get to hear from the U.S. central bank for the first time since a series of moves by its global peers, including the European Central Bank's massive stimulus plan. Thursday's larger-than-expected stimulus package from the ECB lifted U.S. stocks, helping indexes post gains for the week after three straight weeks of losses.
By Tim McLaughlin and Svea Herbst-Bayliss (Reuters) - Venezuela's deepening economic troubles, and in particular the weakness of the bolivar and restrictive currency controls, have hurt U.S. corporate profits for the fourth quarter of 2014 and are set to inflict further pain this year. In a likely sign of things to come from a number of companies this results reporting season, Ford Motor Co on Friday said it was taking a pre-tax charge of $800 million for its Venezuela business. Ford also said that it was unable to maintain normal production in Venezuela with the availability of vehicle parts constrained. Also on Friday, diaper and tissue maker Kimberly-Clark Corp said it took a fourth-quarter charge of $462 million for its Venezuelan business.
The National Association of Realtors said on Friday existing home sales increased 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.04 million units last month. "The still-tight mortgage credit conditions and more challenging first-time homebuyer affordability that were revealed by the failure of home sales to continue recovering last year remain serious concerns as we head into 2015," said Ted Wieseman, an economist at JPMorgan in New York. First-time buyers made up 29 percent of transactions in December as well as for the year as a whole, well below the level needed to boost growth in the housing market. For all of 2014, existing home sales fell 3.1 percent, the first annual drop in four years. The housing market has struggled to maintain momentum since stagnating in the second half of 2013 following a run-up in mortgage rates.
German car maker Volkswagen AG will recall 80,000 cars from its luxury division Audi due to issues with the fuel injection system, Audi said on Saturday, adding that around 35,000 of the affected vehicles are from China. China is Audi's biggest market. China's official Xinhua news agency, citing the country's quality watchdog, reported that Volkswagen's local joint venture, China FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co Ltd, will begin the recall on March 20, affecting various Audi A4, A5, A6, A7 and Q7 models.
By Karen Freifeld NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major mortgage bond investors including BlackRock , MetLife and Pimco on Friday took a first step toward suing Ocwen Financial Corp , accusing it of having failed to properly collect payments on $82 billion of home loans, according to a person familiar with the matter and to documents seen by Reuters. The group sent a formal notice of non-performance to Ocwen and trustees for 119 residential mortgage-backed securities trusts, alleging improper loan modification practices, wrongfully recouped advances, and a failure to account for cash flows. The notice said that Ocwen also steered work to affiliates such as Altisource Portfolio Solutions and Home Loan Servicing Solutions for allegedly unnecessary or overpriced mortgage servicing to the detriment of the trusts, investors and borrowers. The case is the latest setback for Ocwen, which was recently threatened with the loss of its license in California, and whose stock has fallen 89 percent from its record high in October 2013 amid state and federal probes into its business practices.