How to plan your fiscal year

Average us new car loan a record 65 months in 4th qtr

´╗┐March 5 U.S. auto lenders gave borrowers a record 65 months, on average, to repay new-car loans in the fourth quarter, credit-tracking company Experian said on Tuesday. The average term for new-car loans was up from 63 months a year earlier. For loans on used cars, the average term was unchanged at 60 months. The new-car loan term record came as lenders continued to finance more subprime borrowers. Subprime borrowers took 43.2 percent of all car loans, the most in any fourth quarter since 2007 and nearly seven percentage points more than in 2009, according to Experian.

Banks and finance companies have been generally easing standards for car loans over the past three years. The shift has followed lower-than-expected losses on car loans during the financial crisis and increased competition among banks and debt investors for interest income.

The longer terms have come as interest rates have declined. The average interest rate for a new-car loan dropped to 4.36 percent in the fourth quarter from 4.52 percent a year earlier, and the average monthly payment fell to $460 from $468, according to Experian.

Experian is a unit of Experian Plc.

Corrected saudi arabia, malaysia exchanges to boost islamic finance ties

´╗┐(Corrects combined Islamic banking assets total in paragraph 3)Feb 20 The stock exchanges of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have signed an agreement to foster closer ties between the two bourses with a focus on Islamic finance, part of broader efforts to increase cross-border activity in the industry. The agreement will see the exchanges share expertise and developing human capital which is likely to cover areas such as equities, mutual funds and Islamic bonds, or sukuk. The two countries are the largest Islamic finance markets globally, holding a combined $682 billion in Islamic banking assets, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Saudi Arabia's Tadawul is home to the largest Islamic banks in the world, while Bursa Malaysia hosts the largest and most liquid market for trading sukuk. Islamic finance, centred in southeast Asia and the Middle East, follows religious guidelines such as a ban on interest and monetary speculation, but for the most part the two regions' markets developed independently from each other.

The agreement follows stronger cooperation between the Islamic finance centres, in particular the Gulf and Southeast Asian regions, despite traditional differences in the design and implementation of sharia-compliant financial products.

Saudi Arabia's exchange has already reached similar agreements with its Abu Dhabi and Bahrain counterparts. In October, the central banks of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement to foster closer economic ties, including in the area of Islamic finance. In November, Malaysia's securities commission revised its guidelines for screening equities that qualify for Islamic investment, moving them closer to the approach used in the Gulf.