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Hot Topic Bank of America, Housing Starts

Bank of America joined the crowd of financial institutions reporting good earnings this week. The Charlotte, N.C., bank beat the expectations of analysts by saying today that it had a US$2.42B Q-2 profit after the payment of preferred dividends. Bank of America has struggled through the acquisitions of lender Countrywide Financial Corp. and investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co., looks like it is getting its financial house in order. After rising in early trading, Bank of America shares fell 35 cents to $12.82 in mid-day trading. The second-quarter profit amounted to 33c per share and compared with a profit of  US$3.22B, or 72c, a year earlier. Although the numbers were below last year's, the earnings still beat the forecasts of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who predicted the bank would come in at 28c per share.

Housing Starts in the USA run to Seven Month High
Housing starts in the USA rose in June as construction of single-family dwellings jumped by the most since 2004, signaling the market is stabilizing and getting better.  The 3.6% increase brought starts to an annual rate of 582,000, the highest level since November and followed a 562,000 pace in May that was higher than previously estimated, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. A report from the Labor Department showed Georgia and Alabama became the latest states where joblessness topped 10%. The construction figures are the latest evidence that the meltdown is nearing an end. Builder shares climbed for a fifth consecutive day  Economists forecast starts would fall to a 530,000 pace, from a previously reported 532,000 in May, according to the median of 73 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. Last month’s reading exceeded the highest estimate, with projections ranging from 479,000 to 564,000.