German e-commerce investor Rocket Internet won shareholder approval on Tuesday to raise as much as 4.5 billion euros ($5 billion) in the next five years to invest in new ventures and increase stakes in its existing start-ups. Europe's largest Internet company, founded in 2007, is viewed as a potential launch pad for future stock market listings of everything from online fashion to home furnishings and personal finance. It already has holdings in more than 100 start-ups and has big expansion plans for which it needs more cash.
By Jonathan Spicer NEW YORK (Reuters) - The sharp bond market selloff is starting to pinch American consumers and companies, causing a mild economic tightening that, if sustained, could raise alarms at the Federal Reserve and even delay a plan to hike interest rates in coming months. U.S. mortgage rates have reached their highest level in a year-and-a-half, auto loans are getting a bit more expensive, and corporations across the board have seen their borrowing costs jump as U.S. and European debt retrenched in recent weeks. With benchmark U.S. government debt having jumped from 2.13 percent to as high as 2.49 percent so far this month, Fed officials headed into a policy meeting next week will be asking how long the selloff could last -- and how much it could slow the economic rebound from a winter slump.
South Africa's biggest insurer, Sanlam, reported on Wednesday a 17 percent jump in earnings for the first four months of this year as its personal finance division sales grew. Sanlam, which also has operations in Nigeria and 10 other African countries, said sales of its personal finance rose by 20 percent and new business grew by 15 percent to 68 billion rand ($5.5 billion) for the period to end-April. The life-insurer's emerging markets division grew 2 percent as the fall in oil prices hit commodity exporters such as Nigeria and growth in Sanlam's home market was modest, it said.
German e-commerce investor Rocket Internet aims to list the shares in two of its holdings, Global Fashion Group and Global Online Takeaway Group, eight months after its own initial public share offer, monthly Manager Magazin said. Rocket Internet declined to comment on the report. While Berlin-based Rocket sees itself as building an e-commerce operating empire, some investors see it as a launchpad for future stock market listings of everything from online fashion to home furnishings to personal finance firms.
By Andrea Hopkins TORONTO (Reuters) - Sales of existing homes in Canada rose in April from March as home buyers were encouraged by low mortgage rates and a spring surge in listings, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Friday. The industry group for Canadian real estate agents said sales activity grew 2.3 percent last month from March, the third consecutive monthly gain. CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump said sellers in and around Toronto, Canada's largest housing market, had increasingly delayed listing their homes until spring. Prices continued to increase compared to a year earlier in most markets, with CREA's home price index up 4.97 percent from April 2014.
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc waded into China's red hot online finance arena on Monday with a new money market fund to compete against the likes of tech rivals Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings. Dubbed "Huoqi Bao", Xiaomi's new personal finance service will offer deposit rates higher than traditional Chinese banks and will be accessible via an app to be bundled with Xiaomi handsets. The service, a collaboration between Xiaomi and E Fund Management, one of China's largest wealth managers, will expand into offering personal lending and securities brokerage in the near future, Xiaomi said.
By Sarah McBride SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - NerdWallet said it had raised $64 million in its first round of funding, far more cash than it needs to run the personal finance startup, in part to underscore its growth and show it has the potential to one day be valued at over $1 billion. The cash, an outsized sum for initial funding, will serve as a signaling device as much as it will help NerdWallet expand, said founder and Chief Executive Officer Tim Chen. “The more talent, the better.” The funding round values NerdWallet in the mid-hundred millions, a person familiar with the situation said. Once a company hits a $1 billion valuation, it becomes what Silicon Valley calls a "unicorn." Since the beginning of 2014, just eight U.S. startups have raised Series A funding rounds of $50 million or more, according to CB Insights, a consultancy.
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts are similar to IRAs, in that they allow account holders to make contributions to an investment account. Those advantages certainly create an attractive option for parents, but as with any potential investment, there are benefits and drawbacks. In a Coverdell, however, there are no such restrictions. Joshua Sheats, a Florida-based certified financial planner and host of the Radical Personal Finance podcast, gives an example of a parent with investment expertise in a specific speculative market, such as bio-tech stocks.
U.S. housing is set to gain steam this year as a strengthening jobs market offsets the drag from an expected increase in mortgage rates, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday. "We expect the housing market to improve this year. It is only a matter of time until the improved jobs market has a positive effect on the housing market.
U.S. homeownership fell to a 20-year low in the fourth quarter, but a sharp rebound in the rate at which Americans are setting up home is expected to help drive a pick-up in housing. Household formation, however, more than quadrupled to 1.7 million in the fourth quarter from only 356,000 in the same period in 2013. "The combination of a high share of young adults living in the parental home, falling mortgage rates and loosening credit means that the outlook for household formation is strengthening," said Paul Diggle, a property economist at Capital Economics in London. "Household formation is picking up fast enough to outpace construction and is likely to be channeled in a constructive manner, since rents and home prices continue to rise at a healthy pace," said Stephanie Karol, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.
The National Association of Realtors said on Friday existing home sales increased 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.04 million units last month. "The still-tight mortgage credit conditions and more challenging first-time homebuyer affordability that were revealed by the failure of home sales to continue recovering last year remain serious concerns as we head into 2015," said Ted Wieseman, an economist at JPMorgan in New York. First-time buyers made up 29 percent of transactions in December as well as for the year as a whole, well below the level needed to boost growth in the housing market. For all of 2014, existing home sales fell 3.1 percent, the first annual drop in four years. The housing market has struggled to maintain momentum since stagnating in the second half of 2013 following a run-up in mortgage rates.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell for the fourth straight week, with the benchmark 30-year rate again marking its lowest level since May 2013. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, slipped further below 3 percent.
NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose last week as mortgage rates continued to slide, bringing activity to a 17-month high for a second straight week, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell for the third straight week, with the benchmark 30-year rate again marking its lowest level since May 2013. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, dipped below 3 percent for the first time since then.
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home prices fell in December from a month earlier, their second consecutive monthly decline, the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index showed on Wednesday. The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed national home prices fell 0.2 percent last month. Prices ended 2014 up 4.9 percent from a year earlier, up from gains of 3.8 percent in 2013 and 3.1 percent in 2012, as historically low mortgage rates last year stimulated demand. Canada escaped the U.S. ...