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Home foreclosures drop, but risk of delinquency deepens

The foreclosure crisis might have finally peaked in the first half of this year, but with the continued weakness in the economy and the recent deterioration of the housing market, the gains may prove fleeting.

For the first time since 2006, the number of loans in the process of foreclosure fell in the second quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday. Some other measures of delinquency also dropped.

The problem is no longer high-interest subprime loans, many of which have worked their way out of the system. The critical area now is prime loans, where defaults are driven by stubbornly high unemployment.

Mortgages that are in serious default, which means at least 90 days past due, fell to 9.11 percent of all loans from 9.54 percent in the first quarter, the banking association said.

Kepler telescope finds possible Earth-size planet

Scientists working with NASA’s Kepler satellite reported Thursday that they might have spotted a planet just 1.5 times the diameter of Earth around a Sun-like star 2,000 light-years away.

“We’re still in the process of confirming this candidate is a planet,” said Matthew Holman, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, at a NASA-sponsored news conference Thursday. Holman is the lead author of an article describing the discoveries that the journal Science published on its website.

This is the first announcement of a candidate Earth-size planet by the Kepler mission, which in March 2009 launched a one-ton spacecraft to search for planets like ours that just might harbor life.

Hip implants are recalled by Johnson & Johnson unit

More than two years after the Food and Drug Administration began receiving complaints about the failure of a hip replacement implant made by the DePuy Orthopaedics unit of Johnson & Johnson, the company said Thursday that it was recalling two kinds of hip implants.

DePuy said that it had made the decision to withdraw the products because many patients required a second hip replacement after the company’s implants had failed.

The news compounded problems for Johnson & Johnson, which has recalled a succession of some of its best-selling and best-known products, including liquid children’s Tylenol in the United States and, just this week, 1-Day Acuvue TruEye contact lenses in Japan and other countries in Asia and Europe.