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Morning Market Roundup: Late Mortgage Payments on 3-Year Low, Markets Quiet Ahead of China Data, Productivity Up?


Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

Mortgage Payments: U.S. homeowners are getting better about keeping up with their mortgage payments, driving the percentage of borrowers who have fallen behind to a three-year low, according to a new report. Still, the rate of decline remains slow, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Wednesday.

Some 5.49 percent of the nation's mortgage holders were behind on their payments by 60 days or more in the April-to-June period, the agency said. That's the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.

The second-quarter delinquency rate is down from 5.82 percent in the same period last year, and below the 5.78 percent rate for the first three months of 2012.

U.S. Productivity: The Labor Department says U.S. workers productivity rose at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in the second quarter. It fell 0.5 percent in the first quarter, a smaller decline than first estimated.

Productivity is the amount of output per hour worked. Rising productivity can slow job creation because it means companies are getting more from their current work forces and don't need to add workers.

But productivity is increasing at a relatively weak pace. It is up only 1.1 percent compared to a year ago. Since 1947, productivity gains have averaged 2.2 percent a year.

Labor costs rose 1.7 percent. That's below the first quarter's revised 5.6 percent gain.

Markets: Markets were subdued Wednesday after a run of solid gains as investors waited for Chinese economic data to shed light on the state of the world's second-largest economy.

In Europe, Germany's DAX lost 0.6 percent to 6,923 while France's CAC-40 was 0.6 percent lower at 3,433. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent to 5,812 after the Bank of England cut its growth and inflation forecasts. That has confirmed many economists' expectations that the Bank of England will provide more monetary stimulus later this year.

Wall Street also appeared headed for a lower opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.3 percent. On Tuesday, the S&P index closed above the 1,400 level for the first time since early May, a clear illustration of the upbeat mood in markets despite ongoing worries over Europe's debt crisis and patchy economic data out of the U.S.

U.S. Futures: Stock futures are heading lower as worrisome indicators in Europe finally overtook what has been a healthy earnings season for U.S. corporations.

The Bank of England is now saying that the nation's economy will stagnate this year.

In its quarterly inflation report released Wednesday, the BOE predicted that the U.K. economy will not grow in 2012. The bank just three months ago had forecast growth of 0.8 percent for the year. Those hopes evaporated as the U.K.'s economic output fell by 0.3 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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