SC business notebook

March 22, 2013 

Mortgage credit standards slacken by a little bit

Credit standards for mortgages appear to be easing just a bit, according to an analytical study and reports from front-line lenders. The average borrower credit score for a closed loan dropped from 749 in January to 745 in February, Ellie Mae Inc., a provider of software to home lenders, reported Friday. It was the lowest average score since last May, Ellie Mae officials said. The average down payment for a home purchase was exactly 20 percent, the report said — the first time it’s been that low since July. The percentage of total income that borrowers were being allowed to devote to debt payments averaged 35 percent, the highest since June.

Company earnings boost stock markets

U.S. stock markets are closing higher on Wall Street, bolstered by strong earnings from companies like Nike. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 90 points, or 0.6 percent, to 14,512 at the close of trading on Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 11 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,556. The Nasdaq rose 22 points, or 0.7 percent, 3,245. Nike reported a surge in quarterly profit, and its stock was the top gainer in the S&P 500. Tiffany topped earnings predictions, boosted by demand from customers in Asia.

Goodyear plans to roll out new blimps

Goodyear is building the first of a new generation of its iconic blimps. The tire maker said Friday that the blimp built in Germany by ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik will be assembled at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake Hangar near the company’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio. Construction will take up to seven months. Airship certification and crew training are planned for early next year. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. says the new blimp will be larger, faster, more maneuverable and carry more passengers than its current fleet. Goodyear has built and operated more than 300 lighter-than-air vehicles since 1917.

FCC chairman plans to resign

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, is resigning in the “coming weeks.” The country’s top telecommunications regulator his staff Friday morning. His impending departure was reported Thursday by several news outlets. The 50-year-old Genachowski has hewed a middle line between the desires of public-interest groups and the telecom industry, which hasn’t enamored him to either side. His departure will follow that of Republican Robert McDowell, which leaves the five-member commission with a 2-1 Democratic majority until President Obama appoints a new chairman and commissioner.

Bosch lets go of solar energy business

German engineering company Bosch said Friday that it is abandoning its solar energy business, because there is no way to make it economically viable amid overcapacity and huge price pressure in the industry. The solar power industry has been hit by falling subsidies, weaker sales and increasingly stiff price competition. The solar energy division, which employs about 3,000 people, lost around $1.3 billion last year. The company said that, despite efforts to reduce manufacturing costs, it was unable to offset a drop in prices of as much as 40 percent.

The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times contributed.

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