Mortgage Jobs Disappear as Interest Rates Rise

Aug 22, 2013 8:36am

Morning Money Memo…

America’s biggest home lender, Wells Fargo Bank, is cutting 2,300 jobs in its mortgage division. This comes amid a drop in refinancing applications as interest rates rise. Earlier this year re-financings accounted for about 70 percent of all home loan applications, but that number has fallen in recent months.

The cost of a 30-year fixed rate home loan has jumped from 3.5 percent in February to about 4.7 percent now. But the gap between the rate banks charge borrowers and what savers get is growing: “While it has become more expensive to borrow money, when it comes to actually growing wealth there’s still no opportunity there in terms of interest rates offered,” says Casey Bond of Gobankingrates.com. People who rely on bank savings accounts are getting virtually no return. “Right now the average interest rate on say a savings account in the US is 0.11 percent,” says Bond.

Several large employers say they will stop providing health care coverage for spouses, partially because of rising costs under the Obamacare reform law. United Parcel Service, the world’s largest package delivery company, is set to remove thousands of spouses from its medical plan because they are eligible for coverage elsewhere. In a statement to employees the company said: “Since the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide affordable coverage, we believe your spouse should be covered by their own employer.” But some health care experts say this is a part of a long-term effort by corporations to hold down employee costs, and is not necessarily the result of the new law.

Sears’ second-quarter loss widened as the number of stores in operation declined and the retailer spun off its Hometown and Outlet brand. Sears had a loss of $194 million, compared with a loss of $132 million a year earlier. Revenue at Kmart stores open at least a year fell 2.1 percent, and comparable Sears sales declined nearly 1 percent. But online sales rose 20 percent.

The Federal Reserve is appealing a court ruling that rejected its cap on how much banks can charge businesses for processing debit card transactions. The judge ruled the Fed’s cap of 24 cents per swipe set in 2011 is too high. The ruling was a victory for a coalition of retail groups. They sued the Fed over its cap.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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