Personal Finance

House approves student loan change

House approves student loan change

House lawmakers have approved legislation that links student loan rates to the ups and downs of the financial markets.

The Republican-backed bill would allow students to dodge a scheduled July 1 rate increase for new subsidized Stafford loans, but rates could rise in coming years. Democrats largely opposed the measure. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure.

Shareholder firm fined

A prominent firm in the business of advising big shareholders on how to vote in elections for company directors is paying a $300,000 fine to settle federal civil charges of failing to protect clients’ confidential voting information.

The advisory firm, Institutional Shareholder Services, agreed to the penalty in a settlement announced with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm, based in Rockville, Md., didn’t admit or deny the SEC’s allegations.

Google sighting

Few have explored the remote volcanic islands of the Galapagos archipelago, an otherworldly landscape inhabited by the world’s largest tortoises and other fantastic creatures that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Soon it will take only the click of a mouse or finger swipe on a tablet to explore some of the Galapagos Islands’ most remote areas, surrounding waters and unique creatures.

Google recently sent hikers to the Galapagos with Street View gear called “trekkers,” 42-pound computer backpacks with large, soccer-ball-like cameras mounted on a tower.

New home sales surge

Sales of new homes rose in April and nearly matched the fastest pace in five years, driving the median price to a record high.

The gains suggest the housing recovery is strengthening.

New home sales increased 2.3 percent in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000, the Commerce Department said.

Mortgage rates rise

Average rates on fixed mortgages rose for the third straight week to their highest since mid-March.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 3.59 percent this week from 3.51 percent last week.

The average on the 15-year loan jumped to 2.77 percent from 2.69 percent last week.

Possible resort sale

One of the largest resort owners in North America is testing the market by listing a group of its resort villages, including Copper Mountain’s base village in Colorado, for more than $142 million.

CNL Lifestyle Co. has listed seven villages across the country for sale, including commercial space in CNL’s resort site at Copper Mountain.

Others include California’s Mammoth, Canada’s Whistler, Ontario’s Blue Mountain, West Virginia’s Snowshoe, Vermont’s Stratton and Florida beach destination Sandestin.

More tweet searching

Twitter plans to release a tool that makes it easier for advertisers to find customers who also use the social messaging service.

The feature will let marketers use e-mail addresses to identify and target Twitter users who match up with a company’s customer lists.