- - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MORTGAGES

Applications fall to 15-year low

Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell last week to a 15-year low despite the lowest mortgage rates in decades.

Many potential buyers are holding off because they are worried about job security and fear the economy could slip back into another recession.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday that an index measuring mortgage applications, which is adjusted for seasonal factors, fell 2.4 percent last week from the previous week. Home mortgage applications plunged 5.7 percent to the lowest level since December 1996.

Few expect the lowest mortgage rates in decades to energize the depressed housing market. Over the past year, the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 5 percent for all but two weeks. Last week, it hit a four-decade low of 4.15 percent.

Yet sales remain unhealthy. Sales of new and previously occupied homes both fell in July. Sales of new homes are on pace to finish the year as the lowest on records dating back to 1963. The pace of resales is shaping up to be the worst in 14 years.

DURABLE GOODS

Higher orders ease economic worries

A surge in demand for autos and aircraft drove orders for long-lasting manufactured goods higher in July, easing fears that the economy might be on the verge of another recession.

The rebound in the auto industry helped offset a decline in orders for most other factory goods.

Stocks rose after the better-than-expected report showed the biggest increase in durable-goods orders since March, when the earthquake and tsunami in Japan disrupted supply chains and slowed auto production.

Overall orders for durable goods rose 4 percent last month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

HEALTH

Survey: Employers mull ending health coverage

Story Continues →