Tony Dejak/AP WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages declined slightly this week as the spring home-buying season has gotten off to a slow start. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for the 30-year loan eased to 4.29 percent from 4.33 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage ticked down to 3.38 percent from 3.39 percent. Mortgage rates have risen almost a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago. Warmer weather has yet to boost home-buying as it normally does. Rising prices and higher rates have made affordability a problem for would-be buyers, while many homeowners are reluctant to list their properties for sale. Roughly a third of homeowners owe more on their mortgage than they could recoup from a sale. Data released Tuesday showed U.S. home-price gains slowed in February from a year earlier for the third straight month, as harsh winter weather and high prices have slowed sales. According to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, home prices fell in 13 of the 20 cities in February compared with January. Average prices nationally are expected to rise by single digits this year, after a double-digit surge last year as home values rebounded from the Great Recession. The increase in mortgage rates over the year was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month bond purchases, which have helped keep long-term interest rates low. Indeed, the Fed has announced four $10 billion declines in its monthly bond purchases since December. The latest came this week as Fed officials decided to reduce the monthly purchases to $45 billion a month, because they believe the economy is steadily healing. However, the central bank expects its benchmark short-term rate to remain unusually low. To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
Best Financial Stocks For 2015: Dividend and Income Fund (DNI)
Dividend and Income Fund (the Fund) is a closed end management investment company. The Fund focuses to invest, at least 50% of its total assets in equity securities, including dividend paying common stocks, convertible securities, preferred stocks, securities of registered and unregistered investment companies (including, but not limited to, closed end and open end management investment companies, and business development companies) (collectively, investment companies), exchange traded funds organized as investment companies or otherwise, real estate investment trusts, depositary receipts, and other equity related securities (collectively, Income Generating Equity Securities). The Fund may invest in fixed income securities, including bonds issued by domestic and foreign corporate entities and U.S. government securities. Bexil Advisers LLC acts as the Investment Manager of the Fund. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Dividends4Life]
According to a Gabelli Funds report, managed distribution policies offer several advantages, including:1. Lower difference between the fund’s market price and its NAV per share.2. Provides support during periods when the stock market is in a decline.3. Provides a measurable performance target for the investment adviser.Below are several high-yield funds from CEFA that have a managed distribution policy (yields as of December 16):Aberdeen Australia Eqty (IAF)- Distribution Yield: 10.4%- Income Yield: 346%Bexil Advisers LLC (DNI)- Distribution Yield: 11.1%- Income Yield: 3.56%BlackRock En Capital&Inc (CII)- Distribution Yield: 8.78%- Income Yield: 2.34%Cornerstone Strat Value (CLM)- Distribution Yield: 18.77%- Income Yield: 1.83%Cornerstone Total Return (CRF)- Distribution Yield: 19.10%- Income Yield: 0.85%Delaware Inv Div & Inc (DDF)- Distribution Yield: 6.70%- Income Yield: 5.26%Gabelli Equity Trust (GAB)- Distribution Yield: 7.58%- Income Yield: 1.54%Gabelli Utility Trust (GUT)- Distribution Yield: 9.45%- Income Yield: 2.84%MFS Special Value Trust (MFV)- Distribution Yield: 9.60%- Income Yield: 5.73%Nuveen Tx-Adv TR Strat (JTA)- Distribution Yield: 6.70%- Income Yield: 3.12%TCW Strategic Income (TSI)- Distribution Yield: 10.54%- Income Yield: 7.88%Zweig Total Return (ZTR)- Distribution Yield: 7.27%- Income Yield: 1.95%As noted in the Gabelli report, a managed distribution policy may create confusion regarding the true current yield since the reported yield includes the return of capital portion. You can see the disparity above between the income yield and the distribution (reported) yield.If you are looking for a sustainable and growing dividend, you may want to consider some blue-chip dividend stocks such as these with a Free Cash Flow Payout less than 50%, 50+ years of consecutive dividend increases and a 2%+ yield:3M Co. (MMM) is a diversified global company provides enhanced product functionality in electronics, health care, industrial, consumer
Best Financial Stocks For 2015: Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (GARAN)
Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (the Bank) is a Turkey-based financial services company. The Bank provides retail, commercial, corporate and small and medium size enterprises (SME) banking, leasing, insurance, asset management and factoring services. Other operation heading under the banking segment include mainly treasury and investment banking activities as well as unallocated income and expense items. It has a network of 822 domestic branches, seven foreign branches, three representative offices abroad and 104 offices. In addition to its branches, the Bank has 100% ownership in three banks each of which is located in Amsterdam, Bucharest and Moscow. The Bank and its affiliates operate principally in Turkey, but also have operations in the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Malta, Luxembourg and Germany. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Julia Leite]
The Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange National 100 Index climbed from a six-month low. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was ready to listen to the demands of anti-government protesters. The lira strengthened for the first time in three days and bonds gained. Lenders Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (GARAN) and Akbank T.A.S. added at least 3.2 percent.
- [By Halia Pavliva]
Turkiye Garanti (GARAN) Bankasi AS, the largest Turkish lender by market value, led gains on the Borsa Istanbul National 100 Index, which rose 1.5 percent. Garanti climbed 1.3 percent after slumping 4.1 percent to the lowest level since Sept. 13 yesterday. The government is selling $1.25 billion of five-year Islamic bonds today, according to a person with direct knowledge of the transaction, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
- [By Ian Sayson]
Russia’s Micex Index declined, trimming its weekly gain to 2.5 percent. OAO Mechel, the nation’s biggest producer of coal for steelmakers, slumped 1.7 percent. The Borsa Istanbul National 100 Index sank 2 percent as Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (GARAN) led losses in lenders. Benchmark gauges in the Czech Republic and Hungary declined at least 1.2 percent.
Best Financial Stocks For 2015: SWS Group Inc.(SWS)
SWS Group, Inc., a diversified financial services holding company, provides a range of investment and commercial banking, and related financial services to individual, corporate, and institutional investors, as well as broker/dealers, governmental entities, and financial intermediaries in the United States. It operates in four segments: Clearing, Retail, Institutional, and Banking. The Clearing segment provides clearing and execution services for general securities broker/dealers, bank affiliated firms, and firms specializing in high volume trading. The Retail segment offers retail securities products and services, such as equities, mutual funds, and fixed income products; insurance products; and managed accounts. The Institutional segment provides securities lending, investment banking and public finance, fixed income sales and trading, proprietary trading, and agency execution services to institutional customers. The Banking segment offers various banking products and se rvices, including certificates of deposit, money market accounts, interest-bearing demand accounts, savings accounts, federal home loan bank advances, federal funds purchased, and non interest-bearing demand accounts, as well as one to four family residential loans and construction loans, lot and land development loans, commercial real estate loans, multi family loans, commercial loans, and consumer loans. SWS Group, Inc. was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
- [By Lauren Pollock]
Hilltop Holdings Inc.(HTH) offered to buy the rest of SWS Group Inc.(SWS) that it doesn’t already own, valuing the financial-services company at about $231 million. Hilltop, a regional banking and insurance company, offered $7 a share, a 16% premium over Thursday’s close. SWS surged 19% to $7.20 premarket, topping the offer price.
- [By Tim Melvin]
SWS Group (SWS) also catches my eye at the current valuation. The Dallas-based company is in the brokerage, investment banking and banking business in the Southwest. They struggled with losses at the banking subsidiary and eventually had to find a capital infusion. They ended up borrowing $100 million from noted investors Gerald Ford and Robert Bass. The core brokerage and investment banking business are well positioned and should do well over the next few years. I wouldn’t be shocked if this firm was eventually sold off, with Mr. Ford keeping the banking assets and selling the brokerage and I-Bank units to a larger firm. With the stock trading at just 65% of book value, the long-term potential is very high for this stock.
Best Financial Stocks For 2015: Altisource Residential Corp (RESI)
Altisource Residential Corporation is a development-stage company engaged in the acquisition and ownership of single-family rental assets. The Company’s primary sourcing strategy to acquire these assets includes purchase of sub-performing and non-performing mortgages, as well as single-family homes at or following the foreclosure sale (REO Properties (REO)).
The Company intends to pursue opportunities to acquire its single-family rental assets throughout the United States. The Company is managed by Altisource Asset Management Corporation (AAMC). On December 21, 2012, Altisource Residential Corporation’s spin-off from Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A. (Altisource) was completed.
- [By Amanda Alix]
For Wall Street types, single-family foreclosures can be bought cheaply and in bulk, then fixed up and rented. Companies like the Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX ) and Colony Financial (NYSE: CLNY ) have been very active in this market, with the former purchasing 16,000 homes just last year, and the latter ramping up its own portfolio to approximately 7,000. This new industry has also spawned fresh entrants from the REIT field, Silver Bay Realty (NYSE: SBY ) and Altisource Residential, (NYSE: RESI ) two trusts that were spun off earlier this year from parent companies Two Harbors Investment (NYSE: TWO ) and Altisource Portfolio Solutions (NASDAQ: ASPS ) , specifically to take advantage of the boom in the foreclosure-to-rental market.
- [By Mark Holder]
Altisource Residential (NYSE: RESI ) (NYSE: RESI ) (NYSE: RESI ) purchases distressed mortgage loan portfolios with a strategy to work with borrowers to modify and refinance loans to either keep them in their homes or convert the unmodified loans into renovated rental properties.
Best Financial Stocks For 2015: Ishares Trust Russell 1000 (IWF)
iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index Fund (the Fund) seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the large-capitalization growth sector of the United States equity market, as represented by the Russell 1000 Growth Index (the Growth Index). The Growth Index is a subset of the Russell 1000 Index. The Index is capitalization weighted, and consists of those companies, or portion of a company, with higher price-to-book ratios and higher forecasted growth within the Russell 1000 Index. The Growth Index represents approximately 49% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 1000 Index.
The Fund invests in a representative sample of securities included in the Growth Index that collectively has an investment profile similar to the Growth Index. iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index Fund’s investment advisor is Barclays Global Fund Advisors.
- [By James Brumley]
It’s been especially untrue the last few years. Since this point in the year back in 2003, the iShares Russell 1000 Growth Fund (IWF) has advanced 81%, while the iShares Russell 1000 Value Fund (IWD) has only advanced 67%.
Best Financial Stocks For 2015: Turkish Investment Fund Inc (TKF)
The Turkish Investment Fund, Inc. (the Fund), incorporated on September 27, 1988, is a non-diversified, closed-end management investment company. The Fund’s investment objective is long-term capital appreciation through investments primarily in equity securities of Turkish corporations. Its portfolio includes Turkish common stocks and short-term investments.
The Fund invests in industries, such as automobiles, beverages, commercial banks, construction materials, diversified financial services, real estate and wireless telecommunication services. The Fund’s investment advisor and administrator is Morgan Stanley Investment Management Inc.
- [By Dan Caplinger]
Liquidity can be an even bigger concern among alternatives to ETFs. The closed-end Turkish Investment Fund (NYSE: TKF ) has been even more volatile than the Turkish stock market, as the limited availability of closed-end fund shares produces even greater disparities between net asset value and share price. Yesterday, the Turkish closed-end traded at a 13% discount to net asset value, but that discount has moved in a wide range between 6% and 15% at various points during the past year, with some of the biggest discounts coming on days of heightened activity among protesters.