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President Bush signs housing bill

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President George Bush signed a bill this morning to help 400,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure and create a financial lifeline to mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The bill allows struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages into more affordable government-backed loans. It also allows the government to extend credit or buy stock of McLean-based Freddie Mac and Washington, D.C.-based Fannie Mae if the companies ever encountered a financial credit. The government could also purchase stock in the companies.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back or own more than half the mortgages in the U.S. (The Washington Post

More business news

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that Virginia and North Carolina offer some of the cleanest beaches in the U.S. (Virginian-Pilot)

Stihl Inc. got a big boost. John Deere, the well-known manufacturer of tractors and other agricultural products, has named Stihl as its “preferred supplier.” Stihl, a Germany company, has its U.S. headquarters in Virginia Beach. (Virginian-Pilot

Richmond International Airport traffic drops 5 percent from last June. The news isn’t all bad,; the airport still had the second highest number of passengers in June on record. (Richmond Times-Dispatch). 

Earnings

Title insurer LandAmerica Financial Group of Richmond reported a $50 million loss for the second quarter because of lower commercial revenue and mortgage originations. The company had a $7.9 million profit during the same quarter last year. (Reuters

Richmond-based Genworth Financial reported a loss of $109 million for the second quarter because of the weakened housing and financial markets. Last year, the company had a net income of $321 million during the same period.

Total revenues for the company fell 13 percent to $2.4 billion, compared with $2.8 billion last year.

For the Record

AT&T Inc. announced plans to spend $100 million to boost signal strength for cell phone customers in Virginia. The company will install 76 new transmission sites in Richmond, Hampton Roads, Roanoke, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Danville and Lynchburg. During 2007, AT&T installed 68 new sites to their network throughout the state. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The Richmond Memorial Health Foundation issued grants to organizations in Central Virginia totaling $926,000. The largest award, $476,000, went to Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center for installation of the Digital Divide, a cardiovascular information technology system. The foundation supports the efforts of not-for-profit health organization and health-care providers in the region. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)


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