- - Thursday, December 15, 2011

MORTGAGE

Average 30-year loan rate ties record: 3.94%

The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has dropped to 3.94 percent, the record low set in October.

Low rates offer a historic opportunity for those who can afford to buy or refinance. Still, many people either can’t take advantage of the record-low rates or already have done so.

The rate on the 30-year home loan fell from 3.99 percent the previous week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. This week’s 3.94 percent average matches the lowest on records dating to the 1950s.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.21 percent from 3.27 percent. That’s also a record.

Rates could fall further still. Many economists think the yield on the 10-year Treasury note could creep lower in 2012. Long-term mortgage rates tend to track the 10-year Treasury yield.

JOB CUTS

Morgan Stanley to slash 1,600 jobs next year

NEW YORK | Morgan Stanley will cut about 1,600 jobs across all levels of the company, becoming the latest bank to slash payrolls against a backdrop of extreme volatility in financial markets.

The cuts, which amount to 2.6 percent of the bank’s workforce, will be made in the first three months of 2012, a spokesman for the New York investment bank said Thursday. The bank had more than 62,000 employees as of the end of September.

Spokesman Mark Lake said the cuts will occur globally and will include analyst, associate, vice president, executive director and managing director levels.

Citigroup also said last week it will eliminate 4,500 jobs, or about 1.5 percent of its global workforce of 267,000, over the next few quarters. Swiss lender UBS also has told investors it will downsize its investment bank to 16,000 people by 2016 from the current 18,000 as the bank tries to reduce its exposure to risk.

In September, Bank of America Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., said it would cut 30,000 jobs over the next few years.

BANKS

Chase simplifies checking-account disclosures

NEW YORK | Chase is making its checking account easier to understand.

The bank said Thursday it will start providing a three-page disclosure that helps consumers quickly identify the key terms of its basic checking account, such as the monthly fee and conditions customers need to meet to have that fee waived.

Chase, part of New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co., will be the first major bank to adopt a version of the consumer-friendly disclosure developed by the Pew Charitable Trusts earlier this year. As it stands, Pew says disclosures are often more than 100 pages and bury the fees and terms of most interest to consumers.

The model disclosure developed by Pew in April is just one page and highlights terms such as the ATM withdrawal fee and overdraft policy.

AIRLINES

American Eagle may cut 223 jobs in February

DALLAS | American Eagle, the regional-flying affiliate of American Airlines, may furlough 223 Texas-based pilots and flight attendants in February as the company cuts costs under bankruptcy protection.

Eagle Vice President Cathy McCann told the Texas Workforce Commission in a letter received Thursday that 119 pilots and 104 flight attendants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area could lose their jobs around Feb. 13.

The notice does not cover employees outside Texas. Airline officials did not immediately respond to messages asking whether workers in other states could lose their jobs.

American, the nation’s third-biggest airline, has about 74,000 employees, and Eagle has about 14,000, including part timers.

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