FINANCES

Whistleblower accuses

GE of hiding big losses

A whistleblower who warned regulators about Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme is now accusing General Electric of misleading investors, sending the company's stock on a downward spiral.

Investigator Harry Markopolos accused GE on Thursday of engaging in accounting fraud worth $38 billion, saying the company is hiding massive losses and heading for bankruptcy.

The issues he outlined lie primarily in GE's troubled Capital unit, a financial services division often seen as a black hole in the company.

In his report, Markopolos suggests that an accounting rule change for insurance liabilities and a significant lack of reserves to cover long-term care liabilities will push GE to take a $29 billion hit.

GE called Markopolos' claims unsubstantiated and meritless.

 

RETAIL

Walmart online sales

rise 37% in 2nd quarter

Walmart offered a dose of optimism amid growing concerns over weakening economic growth by raising its annual outlook after a strong second quarter.

Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 2.8%, its 20th consecutive quarter in the right direction as the world's largest retailer continues to expand its grocery delivery services. U.S. online sales increased 37%.

Walmart's chief financial officer Brett Biggs told reporters on a call that consumers' financial health remains "solid."

 

MANUFACTURING

Industrial production

declines slightly in July

U.S. industrial production fell 0.2% in July, as factory activity slumped in a worrisome sign for the economy.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that the overall decline was caused primarily by a 0.4% drop last month in manufacturing production. Output decreased for autos, fabricated metals, wood products, textiles and plastics and rubber products.

 

REAL ESTATE

Mortgage rates remain

near historic low levels

U.S. long-term mortgage rates remained near historically low levels this week against a backdrop of volatile financial markets around the globe.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the benchmark 30-year loan was unchanged at 3.60%, its lowest level since November 2016. A year ago, the rate stood at 4.53%.

The average mortgage rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans edged up to 3.07% from 3.05% last week.

Continued anxiety over the U.S.-China trade war and slowing global economic growth made for a rocky ride in the markets. On Wednesday, U.S. stocks plunged after the bond market sent out a fairly reliable warning signal of recession.