Personal Finance

Carnival knew about the risk of leaks on ill-fated ship

Finding fault

Carnival Cruise Lines knew about the risk of leaks from engine fuel hoses and recommended taking precautions on the ill-fated Carnival Triumph that later caught on fire at sea, according to court documents the company has filed. A compliance notice report sent to the Triumph one month before it departed Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 7 recommended that spray shields be installed on engines’ flexible fuel hoses, according to the documents. A leak from a hose on Engine No. 6 led to a fire early Feb. 10 as the ship returned from a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. No one was injured, but more than 4,000 people aboard the disabled ship endured a nightmarish tow to Mobile, Ala., that the plaintiffs’ attorney called a “floating hell.”

No voice calls

Delta Air Lines said it won’t let passengers make voice calls from its planes. CEO Richard Anderson said the airline’s frequent fliers believe that voice calls in the cabin would disrupt the travel experience. Delta also said a majority of customers in a survey last year said the ability to make voice calls would make their experience worse, not better. The Federal Communications Commission is thinking about lifting its ban on voice calls on planes. However, the Transportation Department is thinking about instituting a ban of its own.

On order

Apple will start taking orders for its high-end Mac Pro desktop computer starting Thursday. The black, cylinder-shaped machine is assembled in Austin, Texas, consistent with Apple’s pledge to move manufacturing of an existing Mac line to the U.S. With a starting price of $2,999, the computer can be configured with a faster processor, more memory and other attributes.

Pricier mortgages

Consumers can expect to pay more to get a mortgage next year, a result of changes meant to reduce the role that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play in the market. The mortgage giants said that, at the direction of their regulator, they will charge higher fees on loans to borrowers who don’t make large down payments or don’t have high credit scores — a group that represents a large share of homebuyers. Such fees are typically passed along to borrowers, resulting in higher mortgage rates. The changes take effect in March but will be phased in by lenders earlier.

Mortgage decline

Mortgage applications in the U.S. declined for the sixth time in the last seven weeks as purchases and refinancing fell. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index decreased 5.5 percent in the period ending Dec. 13 to the lowest since December 2000 after a 1 percent gain the week before, the Washington-based trade group said.

Monitoring data

Tired of running out of high-speed data on your smartphone or tablet before the month is up? For those without unlimited plans, The New York Times’ Kit Eaton recommends trying a monitoring app. His favorite for Apple’s iOS devices is DataMan Next. If you need an Android app and don’t mind a bit of clutter, he says My Data Manager is free and “provides a more through measure of data habits.” It also has an iOS version. He also mentions Onavo Count, free on Android and iOS, Data Monitor on iOS and 3G Defender on Android.