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BRIEFCASE WELLPOINT'S NO. 1 IN SURVEY ON DRUGS.

Byline: - Staff and Wire Services

WESTLAKE VILLAGE - WellPoint Pharmacy Management ranks No. 1 in member satisfaction with prescription drug benefits and services, according to a J.D. Power and Associates survey released Thursday.

Based on responses from more than 27,000 health plan members, the study sheds light on the issues that define member experiences. WellPoint scored 755 out of a possible 1,000 points.

30-year mortgage rate up to 5.67%

WASHINGTON - Rates on 30-year and 15-year mortgages climbed this week to their highest levels since the beginning of May. But even with the increase, mortgages rates are still lower than they were a year ago and should continue to keep the housing market healthy.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for the week ending July 18 was 5.67 percent, up from last week's rate of 5.52 percent, Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, reported Thursday in its weekly nationwide survey.

In the middle of June, rates on 30-year mortgages slid to a new weekly low of 5.21 percent, the lowest level since Freddie Mac began tracking this benchmark mortgage in 1971. Records that reach back earlier indicate that rate was the lowest in more than four decades, economists said.

For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates rose to 5 percent, up from 4.85 percent last week.

GM begins talks on union contract

DETROIT - General Motors Corp. became the second major automaker in as many days to kick off contract talks with the United Auto Workers.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Rick Wagoner, GM's chairman and chief executive, shook hands and smiled Thursday afternoon in Detroit just as Gettelfinger and Chrysler chief Dieter Zetsche had done a day earlier in Auburn Hills, where DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group is based.

The union was scheduled to start negotiations with the third major U.S. automaker, Ford Motor Co., today.

Automotive suppliers Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp. also are involved in negotiations, which both sides predict will be difficult.

The current contracts expire Sept. 14.

Freddie Mac woes go to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON - A federal regulator told Congress on Thursday that the accounting troubles at Freddie Mac were more extensive than many people had realized, and that attorneys hired by the housing finance giant's board of directors to investigate ``had not been fully forthcoming.''

Armando Falcon, the outgoing director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, said that ``lack of candor'' prompted him to order an agency investigation last month of Freddie Mac's accounting. But a Republican senator pointedly asked Falcon, whose agency supervises Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - the other big government-sponsored mortgage finance company - why he didn't start the inquiry sooner.

Another Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, said he and GOP colleagues will soon propose legislation to change the regulatory regime for overseeing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the two biggest companies in the multitrillion-dollar home mortgage market. A bill proposed by Republican lawmakers in the House would abolish Falcon's agency, which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and move its authority to the Treasury Department division that supervises savings and loan companies.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 18, 2003
Words:527
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