March 19, 2014 in Business

In brief: Nation’s biggest banks satisfy federal settlement obligations

From Wire Reports

WASHINGTON –The nation’s four biggest banks have slashed billions of dollars from mortgages and other debts, enough to satisfy their obligations under a national mortgage settlement that stemmed from so-called robo-signing.

A report on Tuesday from the monitor overseeing the settlement says Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo Inc. have provided some $50 billion in relief to more than 600,000 borrowers.

The February 2012 settlement was prompted by disclosures that some mortgage-servicing companies had processed foreclosures without verifying documents.

The relief includes cutting mortgages, modifying loans, and allowing homeowners to sell their house for less than they owe. It also includes allowing some borrowers to refinance even though they wouldn’t usually qualify because they owe too much.

Trade deficit streak continues in Japan

TOKYO – Japan notched its 20th straight monthly trade deficit in February as soaring energy imports continued to offset the value of exported goods.

According to government data released today, the deficit totaled $8 billion, up 3.5 percent from the same month a year ago. That’s a record amount for the month of February.

Resource-poor Japan relies heavily on imported oil and natural gas. Those costs have surged following the March 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima, which has led to all 48 of the nation’s working reactors going off line.

The 20-month streak is the longest since the Finance Ministry started keeping records.

Wells Fargo CEO’s pay steady after record profit

MINNEAPOLIS – Wells Fargo kept its pay for CEO John Stumpf unchanged at $19.3 million last year, saying he has led the company well and reduced risk.

A company filing on Tuesday shows that Stumpf received base pay of $2.8 million, stock awards of $12.5 million and incentive pay of $4 million, which was awarded last month based on his performance last year.

The San Francisco-based company says it set his incentive pay after taking into account a record profit last year of $21.9 billion, as well as other goals such as managing its risk and cutting costs while looking for new ways to increase revenue.

The AP’s calculation counts salary, bonuses, perks and stock and options awarded to the executive during the year.

REI sales growth slows, but total tops $2 billion

Outdoor-gear retailer REI said Monday its sales rose 5.9 percent to a record $2 billion in 2013.

That sales growth represents a small slowdown from REI’s prior-year gain of 7 percent.

But REI surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time.

“For perspective, it took the co-op 67 years to reach $1 billion in sales and only eight years to double that number,” REI’s new president and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, said in a letter to the co-op’s members.

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