BY Staff and Wire reports
Friday, January 18, 2013
1/18/13 at 2:40 AM
Average mortgage rate dips to 3.38 percent
The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage inched closer to its record low this week, helping to keep home buying more affordable.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.38 percent. That's down from 3.40 percent last week. And it's slightly above the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.
The rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 3.66 percent in 2012, the lowest annual average in 65 years, according to Freddie Mac.
Cheaper mortgages are a key reason the housing market has begun to come back, economists say.
Pratt & Whitney cuts 350 salaried jobs
Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney says it's cutting 350 salaried workers, about 200 of them in Connecticut.
The East Hartford, Conn.-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. says it's responding to "business and economic conditions."
Pratt & Whitney announced in December it would lay off 80 hourly employees and eliminate 20 other jobs through buyouts.
The company employs about 36,000 workers worldwide.
Company President David Hess said in May that sales are expected to double, to $24 billion, by the end of the decade. But he said Pratt & Whitney must navigate a few transitional years of high fuel costs and a weak economic recovery that are pressuring airline customers.
Williams to pay dividend of 33.875 cents
Williams Cos. Inc. announced Thursday that its board of directors approved a quarterly dividend of 33.875 cents per common share.
The Tulsa-based infrastructure company will pay out the dividend on March 25 to shareholders of record at the close of business March 8.
The new dividend is 31 percent higher than the payout in 2012's first quarter.
Williams previously announced plans to increase its dividend by 20 percent annually in 2013 and 2014.
Meatpacker cuts 2,000 jobs in Texas
Cargill Beef announced Thursday it will idle one of its two West Texas meatpacking plants and lay off all 2,000 workers because of a tight cattle supply following years of drought.
The number of cattle in the U.S. has been dropping for years, but the pace accelerated during the past two years as ranchers in central and southwestern states sold off millions of animals they couldn't afford to feed. Drought has dried up pastures and sent the prices of hay and other feed skyrocketing.
The slaughter began to slow in the fall as many ranchers tried to hold on to the relatively few cattle they had left.
Ranchers have said it will take years to rebuild their herds once the drought ends, and Cargill said it didn't expect business to rebound soon, forcing it to close its plant in Plainview, Texas.
Amazon MP3 catalog available to iPhone users
Amazon says iPhone and iPod Touch users can now buy music from its digital store.
Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday that its MP3 library has 22 million songs available.
Steve Boom, vice president of Amazon Music, said that since the launch of the Cloud Player app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, customers have been asking for the ability to buy music from Amazon directly from their devices.
The Apple device users can browse Amazon's MP3 store for music using Apple's Safari Web browser. Music users buy gets saved to their Amazon Cloud Player libraries and can be downloaded or played instantly from Apple devices or other gadgets such as the Kindle Fire.