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Australian firm to buy Bank of America’s insurance business

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Bank of America Corp. says it has agreed to sell its Balboa Insurance Co. business to QBE Insurance Group for some $700 million in cash and unspecified additional future payments.

The lender said Thursday its agreement with QBE calls for the insurer to assume substantially all of the insurance liabilities of Balboa.

In exchange, QBE will acquire an equivalent amount of cash and other assets through a reinsurance transaction with Balboa.

The transaction is expected to be completed around mid-year.

Balboa was part of Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America acquired in 2008.

QBE Insurance Group is based in Sydney, Australia.

Associated Press

Mortgage rates continue to show little movement

New York – The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage edged up this week as bond yields increased.

Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate rose to 4.81 percent this week from 4.80 percent the previous week. It hit a 40-year low of 4.17 percent in November.

The average rate on the 15-year loan slipped to 4.08 percent from 4.09 percent. It reached 3.57 percent in November, the lowest level on records starting in 1991.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.69 percent from 3.70 percent.

Rates have been little changed this year after spiking more than half a percentage point in the last two months of 2010. Investors sold off Treasury bonds during that time, driving yields lower. Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.

Associated Press

UPS raising dividend after strong earnings report

ATLANTA United Parcel Service Inc. is boosting its fourth-quarter dividend by 11 percent just days after reporting strong earnings.

The global freight giant, based in Atlanta, says its board of directors voted to increase the dividend to 52 cents from 47 cents. The dividend will be paid on March 2 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 14.

UPS on Tuesday reported that fourth-quarter net income leaped 48 percent as the economic recovery boosted global shipments. The company said it expects to generate record net income 2011 by focusing on expanding markets such as China and Germany.

UPS says its dividend has more than tripled since 2000, when it stood at 17 cents per share. The company last increased its dividend a year ago, to 47 cents from 45 cents.

Associated Press

TD Ameritrade settles for misleading investors

OMAHA, Neb. TD Ameritrade has agreed to a $10 million settlement for failing to properly supervise representatives who misled investors about the safety of a money-market mutual fund that “broke the buck” in 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday.

TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. customers who still hold shares of Reserve Management Corp.’s Yield Plus Fund should receive 1.2 cents per share within 30 days as part of the settlement.

The SEC said Ameritrade representatives failed to disclose the risks of the Yield Plus Fund and some representatives told investors the fund was as safe as cash even though it wasn’t guaranteed like a money-market fund. The Yield Plus Fund “broke the buck” in September 2008 when the value of its assets fell below the level needed to cover every dollar invested in the fund.

Associated Press