Delinquency rate soars

for FHA mortgages

Federal Housing Administration mortgages have the highest delinquency rate in at least four decades.

The share of late FHA loans rose to almost 16 percent in the second quarter, up from about 9.7 percent in the previous three months and the highest level in records dating back to 1979, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday. The delinquency rate for conventional loans, by comparison, was 6.7 percent.

Millions of Americans stopped paying mortgages after losing jobs in the coronavirus crisis. Those on the lower end of the income scale are most likely to have FHA loans, which allow borrowers with shaky credit to buy homes with small down payments.

For now, most of them are protected from foreclosure by the federal forbearance program, in which borrowers with pandemic-related hardships can delay payments for as long as a year without penalty.

— Bloomberg News


Costco wins appeal

on Tiffany lawsuit

A federal appeals court on Monday overturned Tiffany & Co.’s $21 million judgment against Costco Wholesale over the warehouse club chain’s sale of generic diamond engagement rings bearing the “Tiffany” name.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan said a lower-court judge erred in finding Costco liable for selling the rings, which Costco said had a pronged “Tiffany” setting.

In the 3-to-0 decision, Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston said reasonable jurors could find that Costco’s use of “Tiffany” was unlikely to make customers think Tiffany endorsed the rings.

She also said jurors could find that Costco acted in good faith, and that “discriminating” Costco customers would be smart enough to know that Tiffany “had nothing to do with Costco’s diamond engagement rings.”

The trademark infringement and counterfeiting case was returned to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan for a new trial.

— Reuters

Also in Business

Epic Games wants a California federal court to temporarily block Apple from making its Fortnite game app unavailable to smartphone users. Epic on Monday sought a temporary restraining order to stop Apple from removing Fortnite or disabling code on the app because the gaming company processes in-app payments outside Apple’s In-App Purchase program. Epic also asked the court to stop Apple from taking “adverse action” like suspending it from the iPhone maker’s developer program. Epic sued Apple and Google on Thursday for removing Fortnite from their app stores, escalating a brewing dispute.

Verizon Communications is adding Walt Disney Co.’s Hulu and ESPN+ to its free Disney+ offer, starting Thursday. The package, known as the Disney+ Bundle, is free for new customers who sign on for certain unlimited plans. The free Disney+ Bundle is included in Verizon’s Get More and Play More Unlimited plans. The Play More offer starts at $80 a month. Verizon customers who already get Disney+ can switch to the new unlimited plans to get the full bundle or pay $6 a month to add ESPN+ and Hulu. Verizon is also introducing an unlimited plan called Mix & Match, in which customers can pick features within the service plan.

Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount carrier, slashed capacity for September and October after demand weakened following a European surge in new virus cases. The Irish discount carrier will cut the number of flights by 20 percent in the next two months because of uncertainty among travelers driven by a rise in covid-19 cases in some European Union countries, Ryanair said Monday. The shift comes less than two weeks after Ryanair and easyJet increased flights after a surge in demand from passengers freed from lockdowns.

Bitcoin rallied on Monday, advancing past $12,000 to its highest level in more than a year amid a wider risk-on rally in equity markets. The world’s largest cryptocurrency rose as much as 5.3 percent to around $12,473 in New York, the highest since July 2019. After trading sideways for much of the summer, bitcoin has regained its mojo as a rally in the stock market nudges the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index to near a new all-time high.

— From news services

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases housing starts for July.
Home Depot, Walmart.