Morning Business Memo:
Most U.S. consumers are cautious about spending too much money, and they’re also careful about paying their bills on time. It’s part of the big shift in behavior in the past four years. Credit reporting firm TransUnion says the rate of overdue auto loans is now at its lowest in more than 10 years. The auto-delinquency rate has fallen on an annual basis for 11 consecutive quarters. Among the factors contributing to the decline: lower interest rates and a strong market for used cars. This trend is a big reason why banks are now making car loans to a broader range of people, even those with poor credit histories.
Peter Thiel has almost unfriended Facebook. The venture capitalist was the firm’s earliest investor and a member of its board. A regulatory filing shows Thiel sold most of his Facebook shares, worth nearly $400 million. The shares were sold Thursday and Friday for between $19.27 and $20.69, far below the IPO price. But Thiel made out well. He invested $500,000 in the social network in 2004. He sold 16.8 million shares in the company’s May initial public offering for about $640 million.
Nike is pumping up the prices of its snazzy sneakers. The new LeBron X sneakers will hit the market priced at $315 in the fall. The Wall Street Journal says the “X” shoes will come with motion detectors “that can measure how high players jump.” Nike is raising prices for most of its range of shoes and clothes. The company’s profit margins have been shrinking in recent years.
Spain’s Treasury sold more than $5.4 billion in short-term debt at this morning’s auction. Interest rates have fallen sharply in recent weeks, as speculation grows that Spain will seek a bailout. Lower sovereign debt yields in Europe, and reports that the European Central Bank might buy bonds to help Spain and other struggling nations, have boosted stock prices.