Money Minute: Apple to Refund Kids' App Buys; Foreclosures Drop Dramatically


The number of home foreclosures has dropped dramatically.

The number of foreclosure filings fell by 26 percent last year to the lowest level since 2007 -- just before the housing boom went bust. RealtyTrac says 1 in 96 homes were in foreclosure last year. That's just over one percent of all homes, and close to the historic average. Still, banks repossessed 463,000 homes last year, so the crisis is far from over. More than 9 million properties are considered to be "deeply underwater" -- meaning the mortgage debt is a lot more than value of the home.

A federal complaint has been filed against Walmart Stores (WMT) for allegedly violating workers' right to protest. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The complaint by the National Labor Relations Board covers more than 60 workers in 14 states. The NLRB says 19 of those workers were fired in retaliation for participating in protests in November 2012.

Apple (AAPL) has agreed to refund at least $32 million to customers to settle Federal Trade Commission charges. The agency charged that Apple didn't adequately monitor the purchase of games and other mobile apps made by kids, without the consent of their parents. Apple also says it will change its billing practices to make sure the problem doesn't recur. You'll be able to apply for a refund if your kid made these kinds of purchases.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 108 points Wednesday, their second straight triple-digit gain. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 32 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 9, topping the record high set at the very end of last year.

Shares of Best Buy (BBY) are set to tumble after reporting a key measure of holiday sales fell from a year ago.

And the United Auto Workers Union is looking to raise its membership dues for the first time in nearly 50 years. The union is proposing that workers pay 2½ hours worth of work each month to the union instead of the 2 hours they now contribute. The UAW wants to rebuild its once mighty strike fund as it heads into contract talks with the Detroit Three automakers next year.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.