Wednesday,
April 7, 2021

Market recap

Dow Jones

33,430.24

-96.95 (-0.29%)

S&P 500

4,073.94

-3.97 (-0.10%)

Nasdaq

13,698.38

-7.21 (-0.05%)

Facebook

$306.26

-$2.65 (-0.86%)

Apple

$126.21

+$0.31 (+0.25%)

Signet Jewelers

$57.96

-$1.02 (-1.73%)

Amid evolving news + uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, your financial needs are our top priority. For more information on COVID-19 and your finances click here.

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Top Story

Pandemic Mortgage Relief Programs May Get Extended

The CFPB Looks For 2022 Extension

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to extend the payment suspension and mortgage forbearance programs put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With these emergency programs coming to an end in the fall, the CFPB is stepping in to help.

The CFPB is proposing a new rule which would prevent mortgage servicers from starting foreclosure proceedings until after December 31, 2021. That would be on top of the existing rule that prevents lenders from foreclosing on a homeowner unless the loan is more than 120 days past due. The CFPB is seeking public comment through May 11 after which it will issue its final rule.

CFPB Wants to Streamline Loan Modifications

In addition to extending the current programs, the CFPB wants to make the loan modification process easier for homeowners. It wants loan servicers to provide borrowers with loan modifications even if applications are incomplete.

To get a loan modification, borrowers typically need to provide several documents including ID, proof of income, taxes, and bank statements. The CFPB believes that a streamlined process will enable homeowners to get payment relief faster. It will only be used for modifications which extend the terms of the mortgage more than 40 years and do not raise the monthly payments for the homeowners.

Mortgage Holders Face Challenges

Though the economy is beginning to reopen and recover, many mortgage holders are struggling. Roughly 2.5 million homeowners are currently enrolled in emergency programs. Despite the relief, about 5% of homeowners are currently delinquent on their mortgages.

The proposed CFPB rule will apply to government-backed loans and private mortgages. The past year has been full of changes for the housing market and for homeowners. These programs may help homeowners weather another unpredictable stretch.

What Is a Mortgage Refinance, and How Do You Know It’s Right for You?

Refinancing is the process of paying off a mortgage loan with new financing, ideally at a lower rate or with some other, more favorable, set of terms. Often, homeowners look to refinance when it could benefit them in some way, like with a lower monthly payment or less in interest payments overall.

For some homeowners, a mortgage refinance can be a worthwhile move; one that could potentially save money off the monthly bill, or over the life of the loan.

If you’re ready to possibly lower your mortgage payments, find out how refinancing your mortgage with SoFi might be able to help. See your potential rates and monthly savings in two minutes.
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Tech Companies Bet on AR Eyewear

A New Way to Interact With Technology

Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), and Niantic are bolstering their augmented reality efforts by incorporating new technology into computerized glasses.

Augmented reality is already being used across a variety of industries from mobile gaming to internet shopping, but now tech companies want to get AR directly in front of consumers’ eyes. The idea is to create eyewear which will enable people to get directions, read text messages, browse movie reviews, and more. Unlike in a virtual reality setup, users will be able to interact with the internet and the real world simultaneously.

Tech Companies Compete for AR Market Share

Facebook has been working on AR glasses for some time and is testing them in conjunction with wristbands which can detect finger movements. The social media giant is focused on developing software and hardware which will compliment its AR glasses.

Meanwhile Niantic, the company behind the game, Pokémon Go, is developing its own AR glasses via a partnership with mobile chip maker Qualcomm (QCOM). Apple is developing an AR headset which could launch in 2022, and AR glasses are expected to follow shortly after that release. Other tech companies working to capture the AR glasses market include Snap Inc. (SNAP) and Google (GOOGL).

The Road to Mass Adoption of AR Glasses

The early iterations of these AR glasses are expected to have limits in terms of the embedded technology, design, and use cases. There are already some AR headsets and glasses on the market, but they are geared toward businesses and tend to be pricey. For example, Microsoft (MSFT) inked a $21.9 billion deal last week to develop custom versions of its HoloLens headsets for the US Army.

AR glasses which will be comfortable and convenient to wear in daily life will likely not be available for at least a year. However, some analysts believe that once this technology is ready for mass adoption, it could revolutionize the way people interact with the internet.

Topps Goes Public Via SPAC Deal

Baseball Card Makers Gets a $1 Billion Valuation

Topps, a maker of baseball cards, is going public via a deal with Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp. II (MUDS), a special purpose acquisition company. The deal values Topps at $1.3 billion.

Mudrick Capital, Gamco, and Wells Capital are investing $250 million in Topps as part of the transaction. Private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners agreed to sell most of its ownership stake in the baseball card company.

Michael Eisner, a former CEO of Disney (DIS) and the chairman of Topps, will stay on in his role. Eisner's investment firm, The Tornante Company, will roll its equity stake into the new company.

Pandemic Drives Demand for Memorabilia

Since Tornante and Madison Dearborn Partners purchased Topps in 2007, there has been a focus on incorporating more technology into the company. Topps has created apps to enable users to trade collectibles and player cards. Topps also creates and sells cards which capture trending images at specific moments in time. For example, Topps sold close to 100,000 cards featuring Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, sporting his viral mittens. Topps is also eyeing the non-fungible token (NFT) market, which has taken off among collectors and investors.

The increasing demand for memorabilia is pushing Topps’ revenue higher. The company’s sales hit $567 million in 2020—a 23% increase from 2019.

Background on the SPAC Deal

SPACs like Mudrick Capital are shell companies created to raise money in order to acquire private companies. The SPAC-purchased company can then trade on the stock exchange without undergoing a traditional initial public offering.

Mudrick Capital said it was drawn to Topps partly because the market for collectibles has been red-hot recently. A Mickey Mantle baseball card recently sold for more than $5 million. Topps is also well-positioned to generate revenue in the NFT market by selling tokens attached to collectibles.

The company is also diversifying beyond sports, inking partnerships with Marvel and Star Wars, which are both owned by Disney (DIS). Investors will be eager to see how trends in the collectibles market unfold, and what that could mean for Topps’ public debut.

Not-So-Breaking News

  • Fidelity Investments is teaming up with Coinbase, Square Inc. (SQ), and Paradigm to launch the Crypto Council for Innovation. The group will lobby policymakers to support and regulate cryptocurrencies.
  • Signet Jewelers Ltd. (SIG) has inked a deal to acquire Rocksbox Inc., a jewelry rental subscription service. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Signet owns jewelry stores Kay Jewelers, Zales, and Jared. The acquisition of Rocksbox marks Signet's first foray into the jewelry rental business.
  • The value of the cryptocurrency market topped $2 trillion Monday, buoyed by a rally in Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency market cap has doubled in recent weeks. Bitcoin is up more than 100% since the start of 2021, and accounts for more than 50% of the crypto market capitalization.
  • Starbucks (SBUX) vowed to stop using disposable cups in all its South Korean stores by 2025. The coffee giant also said it plans to cut its carbon footprint in South Korea by 30% over the next four years.
  • Online retailers raked in $900 billion in global sales last year as shelter-in-place orders drove ecommerce purchases. Online sales accounted for about $1 out of every $5 spent with a retailer globally. In 2019 that was about $1 out of every $7 spent.
  • Thinking about refinancing your mortgage? Visit SoFi Learn to understand the six steps you need to take.

Financial Planner Tip of the Day

“It is important to understand that not every mortgage refinance will save you money on interest. For example, if you extend the loan terms, you may have smaller monthly payments, but you’ll end up paying more money over the course of the loan.”

Brian Walsh, CFP® at SoFi

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