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Government to announce new FHA loan assistance

WASHINGTON - Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration will be eligible for payment reductions similar to the Obama administration's loan modification program, the government will announce today. Effective Aug. 15, financially troubled homeowners who have an FHA-insured loan can apply for a modification under a program parallel to "Making Home Affordable" to help lower their payments and avoid foreclosure. The program is designed to lower monthly payments for 3 million to 4 million borrower.

- Associated Press

COPT reports 29% increase in second-quarter earnings

Columbia-based office developer Corporate Office Properties Trust on Wednesday reported a 29 percent jump in second-quarter net income to $12.6 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with $8.1 million, or 17 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2008. The office park owner said its funds from operations increased 14 percent, to $46.9 million, or 67 cents per share, from $37.8 million, or 59 cents per share, for the three months that ended June 30. COPT, a real estate investment trust, said its buildings were 92.3 percent occupied and 93.2 percent leased as of June 30, and that it had a 70 percent rate of renewal on expiring leases during the quarter. But Randall M. Griffin, president and chief executive officer, warned that despite the strong performance, "the full impact of the recession has not yet been felt in the [commercial] real estate markets," and said the company continues to cut operating costs.

- Lorraine Mirabella

Microsoft and Yahoo team up to challenge Google

Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. finally consummated their on-again, off-again courtship today in an online-search venture, saying they were joining forces to battle industry giant Google Inc. But the proposed pact faces tough scrutiny from antitrust regulators, who typically have rejected deals that reduce three major market players to only two. The proposed 10-year deal will not take effect until antitrust approval is granted. Under the agreement, Web sites from the companies would use Microsoft's Bing search engine to integrate Yahoo's search technology. Yahoo would handle worldwide sales of search-related advertising for both companies.

- Los Angeles Times

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