Investors are smiling this week after stocks continued their surge, officially becoming a bull market after Thursday's 175 point climb by the Dow.
The market index is now up 21 percent from its 12-year low hit on March 9. Traders doubt that this rally will last long-term -- and there are still surely plenty of things wrong with the economy. Stocks were mostly down overnight overseas and are opened down this morning in New York. And while the Dow has surged in the last 13 trading days, it is still down 9.7 percent since the beginning of the year.
Either way, this week brought a glimmer of hope to Americans looking for something positive from Wall Street.
For homeowners and potential home buyers, this week has also brought good news, with the average mortgage rate hitting an all-time low of 4.85 percent for a 30-year fixed loan.
So is all of this long-awaited good news trickling down to Main Street?
Like almost everything else with this recession, the results are mixed.
The latest economic figures are generally encouraging for people who want to borrow money. Thanks to efforts by the government, some banks are now lending more money. Some people are getting the loans they want, and others are still looking for somebody to finance their dreams.
David Hutzman wants to buy his first home. He was rejected for a mortgage in 2006. His credit score is now 702. Hurtzman hopes this time around will go better, thanks to a Federal Housing Administration home loan. He'd have to make a low down payment of $5,880 on the $168,000 town house he wants to buy in a Virginia suburb.
William Giddens hopes to finance $29,000 for a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. He was rejected for a car loan a few months ago, and at 631, his credit score isn't ideal. But he's been a loyal customer and hopes for the best. Lending has risen half a percent so far this year for car loans. Not great news, but an improvement that might benefit Giddens.
Small-Business LoansThen there is entrepreneur Kim Lim. She wants money to expand her pharmaceutical lab business -- a $300,000 loan to hire at least a dozen more employees, but so far more than 20 banks have rejected her.
"I am furious, frustrated and just don't understand why," Lim told "Good Morning America."
Business loans are down 10 percent. Banks still want to see a lot of collateral for a loan of Lim's size.
U.S. small businesses employ about half our nation's workers and over the last decade have created about 70 percent of all new jobs.
As part of the Obama administration's efforts to tackle the recession, the Small Business Administration has temporarily eliminated certain loan fees and raised guarantees on some loans up to 90 percent. The Treasury department has also committed up to $15 billion in capital, specifically to get new loans out to small companies.
Unfortunately for Lim, that isn't enough. She still remains without a loan. California-based Seacoast Commerce was one of the banks that rejected her. Bank officials told "Good Morning America" that although Lim secured $2 million in contracts her loan was still too risky. Her company is less than two years old and lost $400,000 last year.
Hutzman and Giddens had a better outcome: Both men were approved for their loans. Hurtzman got his new home and Giddens got his new truck.
Experts suggest that small-business owners looking for a loan do some research before applying. The more you apply and get rejected, the worse your credit score can become and the less likely you will be to ultimately get that cash. Banks with more money on their balance sheets are more likely to loan out money. Look at the FDIC's Web site before picking your bank.