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Mortgage applications rebound

Mortgage applications in the U.S. rose from a 12-month low as refinancing increased for the first time since early November.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of loan applications increased 2.3 percent for the week ended Jan. 1 after dropping 3.9 percent in the prior week to the lowest level since December 2009.

Home-purchase applications fell 31 percent at the end of the year from a 2010 high in April, while an increase in mortgage rates hampers refinancing. Declining home prices, mounting foreclosures and unemployment hovering near 10 percent mean any recovery in housing, the industry that triggered the recession, will probably take years.

"It doesn’t look good," Brian Bethune, chief financial economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass., said before the report. "With rates moving up, it’s going to be a tough hurdle." On purchases, "we’re still in this sideways, choppy situation."

Total recall

About 6,500 handlebar stems imported by Salsa Cycles, a subsidiary of Quality Bicycle Products, of Bloomington, Minn. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the handlebar stems can crack or break, posing a fall hazard to the rider. Salsa Cycles has received one report of a handlebar stem breaking, leading to minor injuries. The handlebar stems are black and have the word "Salsa" painted on the extension. They were sold as individual aftermarket units at bike retailers and websites between April and October. Consumers are advised to stop riding bicycles with these handlebar stems and contact an authorized Salsa Bicycles dealer for a replacement or a refund. People can contact Quality Bicycle Products at 877-774-6208 for more information.


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