WASHINGTON >> Long-term U.S. mortgage rates moved little this week after a months-long stretch of increases.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages ticked down to 4.44 percent from 4.45 percent last week. The benchmark rate averaged 4.14 percent a year ago.
The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans slipped to 3.90 percent this week from 3.91 percent last week.
Rates are relatively low by historical standards, but they have shot up from an average that remained below 4 percent last year. Last week’s slight gain was the 10th increase in 11 weeks.
Barclays to pay $2B to settle mortgage suit
NEW YORK >> British bank Barclays became the latest big bank to reach a multibillion-dollar settlement with U.S. authorities over its role in the subprime mortgage bubble and subsequent financial crisis. But in a rare and notable move, U.S. authorities went further to fine two individual bankers a combined $2 million as part of their alleged role in the subprime mortgage crisis.
Barclays agreed Thursday to pay $2 billion in civil penalties to settle charges that it sold fraudulent mortgage-backed securities to investors between 2005 and 2007, and that it misled investors on the quality of those loans that it sold to the public.
Consumer spending slightly up
WASHINGTON >> Americans increased their spending just 0.2 percent in February, while their incomes were boosted by increased wages and business owners’ income.
The Commerce Department said Thursday the modest spending increase followed an equal gain in January and a rise of 0.4 percent in December. Incomes increased a healthy 0.4 percent.
The report came as a new indication emerged of a healthy job market. The number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits dropped by 12,000 last week to 215,000 — the lowest level in 45 years. It’s a sign that employers anticipate solid growth and want to hold onto their workers.
A closely watched signpost, consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.