Mortgage rate slightly rise following declines

Published: Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 at 11:36 p.m.
  • WASHINGTON - Rates on 30-year and 15-year mortgages inched up this week, ending a three-week stretch in which these rates had moved down.
    Even with the uptick, rates are still sufficiently low to keep the housing market healthy, economists said.
    For the week ending Jan. 2, the average rate on 30-year mortgages rose to 5.85 percent this week, up slightly from 5.81 percent last week, Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, reported Wednesday in its weekly nationwide survey of mortgage rates.
    For 15-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates increased to 5.15 percent this week, up from 5.13 percent the previous week.
    Rates for one-year adjustable mortgages, however, averaged 3.72 percent, down slightly from 3.73 percent last week.

    US Airways will lay off 552 flight attendants

  • PITTSBURGH - US Airways will lay off more than 550 flight attendants, most of them in Philadelphia, next month after hundreds of others returned from voluntary leave, which was intended to help the airline weather its spiraling finances and bankruptcy.
    Company and union officials said the Arlington, Va.-based airline will lay off 552 flight attendants on Jan. 15 based on seniority.
    The layoffs apparently mark the end of voluntary furloughs the nation's seventh-largest airline offered its employees to stave off job cuts. Under the offer, veteran employees could go on leave to preserve a younger worker's job.
    "The company is saying, now they have to crack heads. This is a way to eliminate more heads from the property," said Theodora "Teddy" Xidas, president of the Association of Flight Attendants Local 40 in Pittsburgh. "The company will not offer voluntary furloughs again."

    Dollar falls to new low against the euro

  • NEW YORK - The dollar continued to tread on a downward path Wednesday as the euro shot above $1.26, notching the latest in a string of record highs against the battered U.S. currency.
    The 12-nation European currency, which has risen more than 20 percent against the dollar this year, reached $1.2647. It eased to $1.2572 in late New York trading, up from $1.2549 late Tuesday.
    "Fundamentals still require the dollar to fall and a floor on that process has yet to emerge," said Peter Morici, professor of international business at the University of Maryland.
    The release of lower jobless claims figures - the lowest in nearly three years - indicated that America's businesses are more confident that the economic recovery is genuine. But the news was shrugged off by a market preoccupied with the U.S. budget and trade deficits.

    Japan's eateries are in a jam over ban on beef

  • TOKYO - The Yoshinoya fast-food chain says it will stop serving its trademark beef-and-onions rice dish unless Japanese authorities lift a ban on U.S. beef imports.
    The Royal Host restaurant chain is considering whether it can increase the amount of beef it gets from Australia. McDonald's Japan has taken out full-page newspaper ads reassuring consumers that its patties are made only with Australian beef.
    News that a cow in Washington state tested positive last week for mad cow disease - the first U.S. case of the brain-wasting bovine ailment - has created a dilemma for restaurant chains in Japan, the world's biggest customer for U.S. beef. Japanese consumers have only recently regained their appetite for beef after a mad cow scare at home. So Japan's restaurant groups are rushing to switch suppliers and offer alternatives.
    - Compiled from The Associated Press
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