Complaint against NC Realtors over dues dismissed

The State Board of Elections has dismissed a complaint against one of the most powerful interest groups in North Carolina politics over requiring its members to give extra dues while they fought local votes over raising the land sales tax. Following more than two hours of arguments and testimony Thursday, board members determined the 38,000-member North Carolina Association of Realtors didn’t break the law when it required up to $75 extra from each member in 2008.

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The proceeds went to an “Issues Mobilization Fund” to extend the association’s efforts to oppose county referenda to raise the land transfer tax. All of the more than 20 county ballot measures have failed.

Becky Harper, a Wake County real estate agent who filed the complaint, argued it was unlawful for the association to demand extra dues from her and other Realtors to oppose the land transaction tax. [Read the full article]

Consumers are unlikely to take on more debt in the near term even though there are signs that they are spending more, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts said Friday in a report on credit card providers.

The analysts downgraded Capital One Financial Corp. to “Neutral” from “Buy,” saying the company has more exposure to proposed late fee regulations and consumer resistance to further indebtedness.

A late-fee proposal under consideration by the government will most affect subprime borrowers, who typically carry lower balances but miss payments, the analysts said. Capital One has a higher than average exposure to this market — 30 percent of cards — compared with the industry average of 20 percent to 25 percent.

Goldman Sachs maintained its “Buy” recommendation for Discover Financial Services, saying the company will continue to see fewer loan defaults than peers and that it is spending money on marketing again to increase market share. [Read the full article]

Financial-services software provider S1 Corp. said Friday profit for the fourth quarter rose 86 percent as revenue improved and expenses fell.

The company reported net income of $9.9 million, or 18 cents per share, compared with $5.3 million, or 10 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose to $59.5 million from $58.6 million a year ago, due to higher sales in the support and maintenance division. Software license, professional services and data center revenue slipped lower.

For the year, the Norcross, Ga.-based company said it earned $30.4 million, or 55 cents per share, compared with $21.9 million, or 38 cents per share, in 2008.

The company completed on March 4 the $28.9 million acquisition of PM Systems Corp., a provider of internet banking, bill pay and security products for U.S. credit unions. The deal was funded from available cash. [Read the full article]

While millions of card users received notices of interest rate hikes and new fees in recent months, a select portion learned they’re getting new perks.

Citigroup Inc., for example, let certain customers with cards that carry the American Airlines logo know they now get 1.2 miles for each dollar they spend, up from a 1-mile-for-$1 ratio. JPMorgan Chase & Co. similarly upped the miles-to-dollars ratio for their British Airways card by 25 percent, to 1.25 miles for each $1 spent. Chase also boosted the ability to rack up rewards on Marriott cards.

The credit card industry calls these upgrades “earnings accelerators.” They are designed to make it more appealing to use one card over another — to “place our cards at the top of their wallet,” Citi spokesman Sam Wang put it.

But just because you have one of these cards, or a similar reward card from a different bank, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get an upgrade. [Read the full article]

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