Money in a Minute: Headlines for April 13, 2011

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In today's news: Car sales are climbing, housing is still a good investment, the IRS gets generous, banks are anything but generous, and the iPhone gets a new challenger.

CARS: Behind a rise in auto sales, easier credit

New-car sales rose 11 percent last year and are climbing even faster this year. But the reason may have less to do with exciting new models than with aggressive car loans. “Borrowers of all types are now finding it much easier to obtain a loan compared with a few months ago,” The New York Times reports. “Even car buyers with tarnished credit histories are getting financing, in some cases without making a down payment.”

HOUSING: Housing still best investment despite downturn: study

It’s been five years since the housing bubble burst, but 80 percent of homeowners don’t regret their purchase. “Even as a five-year slump in house prices drags on, eight-out-of-10 Americans say bricks and mortar remain the best long-term investment,” Reuters reports. “U.S. home prices were down by around 32 percent at the start of this year from their pre-recession peak in July 2006.”

TAXES: IRS awards $4.5M to whistleblower

Talk about a tax refund. “An accountant who tipped off the IRS that his employer was skimping on taxes has received $4.5 million in the first IRS whistleblower award,” USA Today reports. “The accountant’s tip netted the IRS $20 million in taxes and interest.”

BANKING: Study: Banks hiding fee info, skirting law

Everyone knows that comparison shopping with banks is difficult. A new study says it may be impossible. “At nearly one in four banks, consumers can’t learn the price of doing business because fee schedules are unavailable before they sign up,” MSNBC reports. “Those banks are breaking the Truth in Savings Act, which requires such up-front fee disclosures.”

TECH: HTC unveils Sensation 4G smartphone

One of the biggest competitors to the iPhone has been unveiled: the HTC Sensation 4G. “The phone has a 4.3-inch widescreen display, an 8-megapixel camera and a dual-core processor,” CNN reports. “Early reviews have been largely positive.”

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