Business news

Nearly half quit federal mortgage aid program


WASHINGTON - Nearly half of the 1.3 million homeowners who enrolled in the Obama administration's flagship mortgage-relief program have fallen out.

The program is intended to help those at risk of foreclosure by lowering their monthly mortgage payments. Friday's report from the Treasury Department suggests the $75 billion government effort is failing to slow the tide of foreclosures in the United States, economists say.

About 420,000 people who started the program - roughly 32 percent - have received permanent loan modifications and are making their payments on time.

Many borrowers have complained that the program is a bureaucratic nightmare.

Bankruptcy talks have failed, Tribune reports

WILMINGTON, Del. - The Tribune Co.'s plan to emerge from bankruptcy has unraveled in the wake of an independent report concluding that talks leading up to its 2007 leveraged buyout bordered on fraud, attorneys said Friday.

The report by a court-appointed examiner forced Tribune, owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, and its creditors to rethink a settlement agreement that formed the basis of its reorganization plan.

In other news

Hormel Foods Corp. said strong sales of products such as chili helped net income rise 11 percent in the third quarter despite higher costs. The maker of Dinty Moore and other foods raised its earnings guidance for the year on the results, but the CEO said it continues to face rising costs, especially for pork.

J.M. Smucker Co.'s net income rose 5 percent during its fiscal first quarter on lower costs, though the company was squeezed by higher coffee bean prices and price competition on store shelves.