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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

Mortgage rates stay under 5% for 3rd week

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage rates held below the 5 percent threshold for the third straight week as the Federal Reserve prepares to end a program that has kept rates at or near record lows.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 4.96 percent this week from 4.95 percent a week earlier, the mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said Thursday.

This week, the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.33 percent, up from 4.32 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.09 percent, up from 4.05 percent a week earlier. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.12 percent, from 4.22 percent.

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Tarmac-delay waiver sought by Continental

DALLAS (AP) -- Continental Airlines has asked regulators for an exemption from new rules to punish airlines for long delays on the tarmac, saying construction at New York's Kennedy Airport will slow operations at two other nearby airports.

If Continental does not get its wish, look for the nation's fourth-largest carrier to be quicker to cancel flights that might run up against the three-hour limit.
The new government rule limits how long passengers can be delayed on the tarmac.

JetBlue and Delta asked for exemptions from the rule last week, and American joined them this week.

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Regulators got bonuses amid financial crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As banks gambled on the risky mortgages that helped create the worst financial crisis in generations, the federal government handed out millions of dollars in bonuses to regulators at agencies that missed or ignored warning signs that the system was on the verge of a meltdown.

The bonuses, detailed in payroll data released to the Associated Press, are the latest evidence of the government's false sense of security during the go-go days of the financial boom.

Just as bank executives got bonuses despite taking on dangerous amounts of risk, regulators got taxpayer-funded bonuses for doing "superior" work monitoring the banks.

The bonuses, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, were part of a reward program little known outside the government.

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Sales figures for Palm show competitive lag

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sales figures reported by Palm on Thursday showed that the company is having a difficult time getting consumers to pay attention to its phones in a market dominated by iPhones and BlackBerrys.

Palm shipped 960,000 smart phones in the quarter that ended Feb. 26, 23 percent more than in the previous quarter. However, the number of phones purchased was 408,000, down by 29 percent from the previous quarter.

Apple sold 8.7 million iPhones in its latest quarter.

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