Business briefs | Fixed mortgage rates fall to record lows

July 12, 2012 

Fixed mortgage rates fall to record lows

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell again to record lows, giving would-be buyers more incentive to brave the housing market.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 3.56 percent. That's down from 3.62 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

Cheaper mortgages have contributed to a modest housing recovery this year.

Low mortgage rates could also provide some help to the economy if more people refinance. When people refinance at lower rates, they pay less interest on their loans and have more money to spend.

Air travel down, ticket prices up

An industry group says the price of airline tickets rose 5.5 percent during the first half of this year.

The Airlines Reporting Corp., which handles financial settlements between the airlines and third parties who sell tickets, said that January-June airfares are now 13 percent higher than they were just two years ago.

Airlines have been cutting flights and raising fares in an effort to be more profitable and offset the cost of oil.

The number of passengers buying tickets through the 16,000 travel agents working with ARC rose slightly, 0.5 percent from the prior year. Travel, however, is down 1.6 percent compared with two years ago.

Buffett admits economy growth tepid

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Thursday that U.S. economic growth has slowed in the last two months as fears about Europe's debt woes mounted.

Buffett's comments contrast with what he has been saying for a couple years.

Buffett has said the economy was gradually improving since the fall of 2009 in every area except businesses related to housing.

Buffett said the U.S. economy has not turned negative, but business in Europe has dropped off quickly in the past two months.

United Airlines buying 150 Boeing 737s

United Airlines is buying 150 Boeing 737s, planning to use them to replace older planes that are not as fuel efficient.

The order announced on Thursday includes 100 of Boeing's new 737 Max 9s.That's a new version of the plane that will have new engines and other tweaks to cut how much fuel it burns.

Those planes start arriving at United in 2018.

United is also buying 50 of Boeing's current 737-900ER.

Those planes begin arriving late next year.

The order would be worth more than $14 billion at list prices.

The 737 is a workhorse of domestic flying. United already flies 43 of those planes, which seat 173 people.

From wire reports

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