Fed releases home-pricing map

Curious about when your county hit the housing market's peak, and when home values started to slide? The New York Federal Reserve Bank has released a new color-coded, interactive map tracking home price trends from May 2004 through May 2012, accompanied by a blog post saying that the national housing outlook is starting to look "a bit brighter." The map shows year-by-year trends for the nation and month-by-month trends for New York counties. For instance, in March 2003, home prices in Suffolk were 21.1 percent higher than they had been a year earlier. In April 2009, they had fallen 14.4 percent compared to the same month in 2008. In Nassau County, the typical home price in April 2003 was 17.3 percent higher than a year earlier. In April 2009, prices had fallen 12.1 percent compared to a year earlier.-- Maura McDermott


Bernanke: Economy still weak

Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers Wednesday that the Federal Reserve's efforts to bolster growth have helped lift the U.S. economy out of the Great Recession. But he acknowledged that the economy remains weak and the Fed can only do so much. "I don't think it is the case that there has been no progress. The recovery has been slower than we like but clearly we have made progress," Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee. He said the Fed is prepared to take further action if unemployment stays high, but didn't specify what steps the Fed might take. Many economists interpreted the remarks to mean the Fed will likely launch a third round of bond purchases, perhaps in the fall.

8 trade agencies tagged as threat

Federal regulators have tagged eight exchanges and clearinghouses that settle trades as potential threats to the stability of the financial system that need strict government oversight. They include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Depository Trust Co., the National Securities Clearing Corp. and the Options Clearing Corp. The announcement was made yesterday by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a group of the top regulators that includes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The action was mandated by the 2010 financial overhaul law. The oversight group said that while the U.S. financial system has been made more resilient since the financial crisis, "There is still work to be done to address structural vulnerabilities."

Asset seizure eyed for ex-broker

Investigators are moving quickly to seize the wide-ranging personal assets of the disgraced founder of an Iowa brokerage so they can try to reimburse thousands of customers and workers affected by his alleged $200 million fraud. Former workers at now-shuttered Peregrine Financial Group Inc., controlled by Russ Wasendorf Sr., said they were stunned by the dramatic downfall of the prominent businessman. About 75 of the estimated 250 Iowa workers affected attended a meeting Wednesday in Waterloo. Wasendorf's business empire collapsed last week after he was found unresponsive in his car outside Peregrine's headquarters following a suicide attempt.

PayPal helps eBay to 2Q boost

EBay Inc. more than doubled its second-quarter net income thanks to higher revenue from its PayPal online payments business and its e-commerce websites. The solid results, which came against the backdrop of the ongoing European economic turmoil, prompted investors to send the company's stock up nearly 6 percent in after-hours trading. "It was an excellent quarter almost across the board," said Wedbush analyst Gil Luria. The growing use of smartphones and tablet computers to shop helped eBay sweep aside the economic woes affecting brick-and-mortar retailers. -- AP

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