Wednesday's Early Headlines
- Bernanke Set to Testify Before House Budget Committee on Economy -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify on Capitol Hill on economic and financial conditions as well as the federal budget beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Later, Bernanke will speak on workforce development at the Richmond Federal Reserve following the release of the central bank's Beige Book report on economic activity in its 12 districts.
- Mortgage Applications, Rates Fall During Holiday Week -- The Mortgage Bankers Association said its Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, fell by a seasonally adjusted 12.2% last week, or 21.1% when unadjusted for the Memorial Day holiday. Refinancing applications were down 14.3% from the prior week, while purchasing applications fell 5.7% compared with the previous week, the survey showed. Michael Fratantoni, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics, said purchase applications are now 35% below their level of four weeks ago, "as homebuyers have not yet returned to the market following the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit at the end of April." The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate dipped to 4.81% last week from 4.83% the previous week, the MBA said.
- China's AgBank Plans Record IPO -- Agricultural Bank of China's plans for an initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong has been approved by China's stock regulator. The IPO, which expected to raise between $23 billion and $30 billion depending on where shares are priced, would exceed the world record previously set by Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, whose $21.9 billion dual Hong Kong-Shanghai IPO in October 2006.
- Allscripts to Buy Eclipsys for $1.3 Billion -- Health care software company Allscripts (MDRX) agreed to acquire rival Eclipsys (ECLP), a provider of software for hospitals and clinicians, for $1.3 billion in stock. Eclipsys stockholders will receive 1.2 shares of Allscripts for each share of Eclipsys. The deal represents a 19% premium based on the closing stock price of Eclipsys on Tuesday of $18.51.