New York City-Defaults on loans to U.S. franchise operators of fast-food chains and gas stations soared this year, due to a slumping economy and aggressive lending practices, according to bond rating service Fitch Investors. More than $900 million of franchise loans were in default for the 12-month period that ended in September, compared with $200 million a year earlier.

Fitch attributes the increase in defaults to the slumping economy and relaxed lending requirements. -Reuters