- - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

UNEMPLOYMENT

Slightly more people seek jobless benefits

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits ticked up slightly last week after two months of steady declines.

But the increase isn’t enough to reverse the downward trend. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell to its lowest level since April. The decline in the average signals that companies are laying off fewer workers.

Weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000, the Labor Department said Wednesday. It is only the second increase in six weeks. The four-week average fell to 394,250. That is the eighth drop in the past nine weeks.

MORTGAGES

Rate on 30-year fixed loan falls to 3.98%

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage hovered above its record low for a fourth straight week. But cheap mortgage rates have done little to boost home sales or refinancing.

Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year fixed loan fell to 3.98 percent from 4 percent the previous week. Seven weeks ago, it dropped to a record low of 3.94 percent, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage edged down to 3.3 percent from 3.31 percent. It too hit a record low seven weeks ago, of 3.26 percent.

Rates have been below 5 percent for all but two weeks this year.

UNIONS

Teamsters expand lawsuit against Mexican trucks

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has expanded its lawsuit against the government in a long-running battle that has stopped Mexican trucks from coming deep into the United States.

In papers filed in federal appeals court in Washington on Wednesday, the union says the government must first assess the environmental impact of a pilot project before letting it continue. The first Mexican truck in the pilot program crossed the border last month.

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