U.S. stocks lower in afternoon trading
NEW YORK, July 12 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks traded lower Thursday on concerns about the global economy, analysts said.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 41.40 points, or .33 percent, to 12,563.13 in early afternoon trading.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 8.63 points. or .64 percent. to 1,332.51.
The Nasdaq composite was down 31.66 points, or 1.10 percent, to 2,856.32.
Analysts said technology and financial stocks led the decline. A Labor Department report that showed initial jobless claims hit a 4-year low last week did little to boost the market.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. treasury note was trading up 11/32, with the yield falling to 1.486 percent.
The euro hit a two-year low Thursday, sliding to $1.2198 against the U.S. dollar. Against the yen, the dollar fell to 79.72.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index fell 130.9 points, or 1.48 percent, to 8,720.01. In London, the FTSE 100 was down 56.23, or 0.99 percent, to 5,608.25.
U.S. jobless claims hit 4-year low
WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment fell last week to the lowest level since March 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report said about 350,000 people filed for initial jobless claims in the week ended July 7, down 26,000 from the previous week. The size of the decrease was a surprise to economists who say the numbers may be distorted by the July 4th holiday and fewer auto factories shutting down for retooling, CNN reported.
In the week ending July 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted first-time claims was 350,000, a drop of 26,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 376,000. The 4-week moving average was 376,500, a decrease of 9,750 from the previous week's revised average of 386,250.
The total number of people claiming jobless benefits in all programs for the week ending June 23 was 5,874,035, an increase of 17,011 from the previous week.
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 30 were in New York, Kentucky, Michigan, California and Oklahoma. The largest decreases were in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland.
Wells Fargo settles discrimination case
WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, has agreed to pay more than $175 million to settle allegations of discrimination, the Justice Department said.
Federal prosecutors alleged Wells Fargo engaged in a pattern of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers from 2004 through 2009.
The settlement provides $125 million in compensation for approximately 4,000 wholesale borrowers who were steered into subprime mortgages and 30,000 wholesale borrowers who paid higher fees and rates than white borrowers because of their race or national origin, the department said. The bank will also provide $50 million in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in communities where the Justice Department identified large numbers of discrimination victims and which were hard hit by the housing crisis.
Wells Fargo has also agreed to conduct an internal review of its retail mortgage lending and will compensate African-American and Hispanic retail borrowers who were placed into subprime loans when similarly qualified white retail borrowers received prime loans.
"The department's action makes clear that we will hold financial institutions accountable, including some of the nation's largest, for lending discrimination," Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said. "An applicant's creditworthiness, and not the color of his or her skin, should determine what loans a borrower qualifies for."
The settlement was filed Thursday in federal court in Washington.
Fixed mortgage rates at record lows
MCLEAN, Va., July 12 (UPI) -- Fixed mortgage rates in the United States hit record lows amid easing bond yields, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said Thursday.
The average 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 4 percent for 16 weeks. The average 15-year fixed contract has been below 3 percent for 7 weeks, Freddie Mac said.
"Following a lackluster employment report for June, long-term U.S. Treasury bond yields eased somewhat this week allowing fixed mortgage rates to reach yet another record low," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac.
Nothaft said only 80,000 net new jobs were added to the economy last month, not enough to lower the national unemployment rate from 8.2 percent.
The mortgage brokerage bank said a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.56 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Thursday, down from last week when it averaged 3.62 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.51 percent.
A 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.86 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.89 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.65 percent.
A 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.74 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.79 percent.
A 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.69 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.68 percent.
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