- - Thursday, October 4, 2012

MORTGAGES

Rate on 30-year loan hits record 3.36 percent

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell to fresh record lows for the second straight week. The declines have led more homeowners to refinance, a trend that could help jump-start the economy.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.36 percent. That’s down from last week’s rate of 3.40 percent, which was the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, dipped to 2.69 percent, down from last week’s record low of 2.73 percent.

COMMERCE

Retailers: Slower sales growth in September

NEW YORK — Americans may have slowed their spending in September after splurging in the month before during the busy back-to-school shopping season. But most importantly, they are still spending.

September sales rose 3.9 percent — a slowdown from the 6 percent rise in August — as 22 retailers such as Macy’s and Costco reported mixed results, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Still, given the economic and political uncertainty that weighs on many Americans right now, analysts say the results are an encouraging sign for stores as they head into what’s traditionally the busiest shopping period of the year in November and December.

CURRENCY

Euro rises after comments from ECB chief

NEW YORK — The euro is rising against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Spain is making progress toward getting its finances under control.

Mr. Draghi made his comments after the ECB said it was leaving its key interest rate for the 17 countries that use the euro unchanged.

The euro rose to $1.3018 in late trading from $1.2899 late Wednesday. The British pound rose to $1.6185 from $1.6072.

The dollar slipped to 78.50 Japanese yen from 78.52 yen.

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