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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, December 30, 2018 1:00 am

Briefs

Bankruptcy filed by US gold refiner

News services

Republic Metals, the South Florida-based gold refiner that is one of the nation's largest, has filed for bankruptcy, a further sign of trouble for the U.S. precious metals industry, which has been targeted by federal prosecutors investigating “blood gold” for more than two years.

Republic buys raw gold and silver from the U.S., Canada and Latin America, processes the metal and then sells it to corporate giants, including Tiffany & Co., Apple and General Motors.

Because of its proximity to Latin America, which is rich both in gold deposits and drug traffickers seeking to launder money, Miami has become a major hub for the U.S. gold industry.

Republic's financial problems were uncovered in April, when the company said an internal inventory could not account for a large amount of precious metal at its plant in Opa-locka. That shortfall, coupled with serious bank debt, led Republic to try to sell itself to a major Swiss gold refiner. The deal failed, leading the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in New York on Nov. 2.

Mortgage rates sees small dip to 4.55%

U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this month, offering a relief to would-be homebuyers after the stock market tumbled.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 4.55 percent from to 4.62 percent. Rates averaged 3.99 percent a year ago.

The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate loans dropped to 4.01 percent from 4.07 percent. Still, that average is above its 3.44 percent level a year ago.

Mortgage rates began to spike after President Donald Trump signed deficit-financed tax cuts into law last year, but rates have eased in recent weeks as stocks have sold-off and the interest charged on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note has tumbled.

Japanese firm set to cut jobs in Europe

Next year is shaping up to be another tough one for Nomura Holdings Inc.'s employees in Europe, with more job losses likely as the Japanese securities firm shifts business away from the region to more profitable centers in Asia and the U.S.

Japan's biggest investment bank needs to cut staff while finding ways to spur revenue in the region, Chief Executive Officer Koji Nagai said.

Nomura has struggled to generate profits in Europe since it bought Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. operations in 2008. And the firm's recently announced plan to end the status of its London office as a global booking hub means the current 3,000-strong workforce in the region may be “a little large,” Nagai said.