Daily Briefing

The Baltimore Sun

Carrollton Bancorp due funding of $10.6 million

Carrollton Bancorp, the parent company of its namesake bank, said yesterday it will receive up to $10.6 million from a federal program designed to spur lending. Carrollton, which is moving its Baltimore headquarters and operating center to Columbia in the first quarter, said it received preliminary approval from the U.S. Treasury under the government's $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program, which sets aside $250 billion to inject cash into banks in exchange for shares. Carrollton will sell senior preferred stock and warrants to purchase common stock to the Treasury in exchange for the cash. The bank said it is well capitalized.

Hanah Cho

Consumer borrowing hits a 65-year low

Consumers cut back on their borrowing by a record amount in dollar terms in November, another sign of trouble for the rapidly weakening economy. The Federal Reserve reported yesterday that borrowing on credit cards, and for such things as auto loans, dropped at an annual rate of $7.94 billion in November, the biggest decline in 65 years of record keeping. That also was much larger than the $500 million decline economists expected, and left total consumer credit outstanding at $2.57 trillion. The drop represented a decline of 3.7 percent from October, which was the biggest fall in percentage terms since a 4.3 percent plunge in January 1998. Analysts are worried thst the economy's troubles could trigger a major retrenchment by consumers that would make the current recession, already the longest in a quarter-century, worse. Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of total economic output.

Associated Press

Consumer test version of Windows 7 due today

LAS VEGAS : Improvements to Microsoft Corp.'s next version of Windows are largely incremental, but the operating system could go a long way to repairing the software giant's reputation. Microsoft released a trial version Wednesday for software developers of Windows 7, the follow-up to Windows Vista, which bruised the company with bad reviews and disappointing sales. A version for consumers to test on their personal computers is expected today. "We are on track to deliver the best Windows ever," Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said during his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show. "Windows will remain the center of people's technological solar system." Microsoft also edged out rival Google Inc. on two search-engine deals that Ballmer announced Wednesday. The first was with Dell Inc. to load Microsoft's search engine on new PCs. The second was an exclusive five-year agreement to install Windows Live search software on most cell phones sold by Verizon Wireless. Verizon will soon be the nation's largest cellular carrier, with more than 71 million subscribers, when it completes its acquisition of Alltel Corp.

Los Angeles Times

30-year mortgage rates are at historic low

WASHINGTON: Rates on 30-year mortgages fell to a record level for a fourth straight week, dropping to the lowest mark since Freddie Mac started tracking the data nearly 28 years ago. Rates have been falling since late November, when the Federal Reserve announced a plan to spend up to $500 billion to buy mortgage-backed securities in efforts to buttress the distressed U.S. housing market. Freddie Mac reported yesterday that average rates on 30-year fixed mortgages dropped to 5.01 percent this week, down from the previous record of 5.1 percent set last week.

Associated Press

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