Morning Business Memo:
Both Target and Best Buy say they will match the prices of their online competitors, but some retail analysts say this could be a risky move. The aim of the price-match programs is to stop "show-rooming," where shoppers armed with smartphones and tablets check out the merchandise at stores and then find it cheaper on the Web. A recent survey confirmed that Best Buy's and Target's average prices were higher than Amazon's. Target says shoppers have to bring in proof that a lower price is available. But that could take time, and some retail experts say the price-match offer might highlight that goods are often cheaper online. "Let's say you find an item cheaper online; it's easier to just click and order it then go back into the store," Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, told the Wall Street Journal.
The burden of debt for college students who take out loans continues to rise, according to a new report. "Two-thirds of new graduates had loans and their average debt was $26,600 dollars for the class of 2011," says Lauren Asher, president of the California-based Institute for College Access and Success. She says average debt for students who graduated last year rose more than $1,000, compared with the year before. "College costs have outstripped both family incomes and available grant aid now for quite awhile and that shows up in more and more debt." Total student loan debt is now more than $1 trillion. Student debt nationally by some measures has surpassed $1 trillion. Recent government figures show nearly 10 percent of borrowers of federal student loans in the most recently measured cohort had already defaulted within two years of starting repayment.
The stock market has been up three straight days this week. One reason for the rise is growing optimism about the improving housing market. For more than 5 years, the housing collapse was a drag on the economy. But Wednesday's Commerce Department report showing a 15 percent rise in new home construction starts was even better than expected. Building permits for future construction jumped nearly 12 percent. Such growth means that housing might be a bigger contributor to the economy in 2013.
Many people are shut out from buying a home even if they believe they can afford to jump in to the housing market. A poor credit score is holding them back. "You do need to stay on top of it because it is something that's considered your adult report card," Carmen Wong Ulrich, who gives money advice at Good Housekeeping magazine, told ABC News Radio. Lenders look at your credit history when they decide what to charge. "This is what's telling people are you an A, are you a B, are you a C, are you a risk to them and if you are a risk and you have a lower score, you're going to pay more for lots of different things and not just financial but insurance as well," she said.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc