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Business update: Mortgage applications rise 7 percent

Wed., July 7, 2010, noon

Applications for home loans rose last week as consumers raced to refinance at the lowest rates in decades. The Mortgage Bankers Associations said today that overall applications increased nearly 7 percent from a week earlier. While they have been increasing in recent weeks, they remain below early 2009 levels. Applications to refinance home loans were up 9 percent to the highest level since May 2009. But new mortgages taken out to purchase homes fell 2 percent. Those applications have fallen in eight out of the last nine weeks, after government tax credits that spurred home sales ended on April 30. Applications were 35 percent below last year’s levels.

AT&T network glitch limits iPhone 4 upload speeds: In the latest snag for the iPhone 4, AT&T Inc. said today that a software defect in its network is limiting data uploads from the phone in some areas. That means it takes longer for users to send pictures, video and other content from the phone. Apple Inc.’s new iPhone 4 went on sale in the U.S. and a few other countries two weeks ago. AT&T said a fix is in the works.

WaMu securities holders file complaint: Investors holding $1 billion in Washington Mutual Inc. securities are suing to protect their investment from being transferred to J.P. Morgan Chase as part of Washington Mutual’s bankruptcy reorganization. A complaint filed Tuesday in bankruptcy court centers on the purported exchange of $4 billion in securities into WMI preferred stock when its flagship bank was seized by federal regulators in 2008 and sold to J.P. Morgan for $1.9 billion. Certain securities holders claim the exchange never took place, and that WMI had no authority to transfer the securities to its Washington Mutual Bank subsidiary, and thereby to J.P. Morgan.

Toyota adding more time to new vehicle development: Toyota Motor Corp. is extending the time it takes to develop new vehicles by about four weeks for more quality checks in the wake of its massive safety-related recalls, a top executive said today. Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada said the company has learned a lot from its recalls of more than 8.5 million vehicles worldwide, including the need to slow the pace at which it develops new cars. It currently takes Toyota about 24 months on average to bring a new vehicle to market in Japan, Uchiyamada said. The time varies somewhat in other markets, including the U.S.

Stocks extend gains after financial stocks climb: Financial and materials shares pulled the stock market higher today after traders looked for beaten-down names. The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 180 points in afternoon trading. The Dow and broader indexes gained more than 1 percent. Interest rates rose as investors dumped Treasurys in favor of riskier assets like stocks.

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