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Mortgage rates rise, remain historically low

NEW YORK (AP) -- Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages backed off this week from yearly lows, but still remain historically cheap.

Mortgage finance company Freddie Mac says the average rate rose to 4.75 percent from 4.72 percent last week. The rate hit 4.71 percent in December, the lowest since Freddie Mac began keeping records in 1971.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 4.2 percent, from its all-time low of 4.17 percent set last week.

Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.89 percent, down from 3.92 percent a week earlier. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 3.82 percent from 3.91 percent. That was the lowest average since May 2004.

A Federal Reserve program to reduce borrowing costs for consumers pushed rates down to extraordinarily low levels last year. Rates were expected to rise after the campaign ended this spring, but have declined instead over the past two months as investors shifted money into the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds.


Emergency bank loans fall

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bank borrowing over the past week from the Federal Reserve's emergency lending program fell to the lowest point since before the credit crisis struck with force in the fall of 2008. The decline provided further evidence that credit markets are improving.

The Fed said that banks averaged $104 million in borrowing for the week that ended Wednesday. That was down by $1 million from the average of $105 million for the previous week.

Loans from the central bank's emergency lending program had surged to a high of $110 billion a day during the height of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.


Window-blind safety urged

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Government safety officials warned window blind and shade manufacturers Thursday that their products -- responsible for one child strangling each month -- must be safer or they will face new regulations.

Inez Tenenbaum, chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said that window blinds manufacturers must quickly develop safer standards for window blinds and shades.

Tenenbaum discussed the issue Thursday with representatives of the industry and safety advocates.

Whether through voluntary or mandatory rules, safer standards could mean more cordless window blinds sold on store shelves, or window coverings sold with inaccessible cords.

Still, no specific designs were agreed upon Thursday, and the agency didn't set a deadline for the industry to act. Government mandatory standards generally take longer than an industry's own voluntary standards.


Stock sale rules proposed

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a response to last month's "flash crash," federal regulators have put forward proposed rules spelling out when and at what prices stock trades would be canceled.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday it is publishing for public comment the rules proposed by the major U.S. exchanges and the brokerage industry's self-policing arm. The proposal calls for a series of thresholds for canceling trades when prices diverge from the last sale before pricing was disrupted. The higher the value of a stock, the smaller the divergence would have to be to trigger a cancellation.


Derrick buys adjacent site

Cheektowaga manufacturer Derrick Corp. paid $2.5 million this week to acquire an adjoining five-acre property to use for employee parking.

The maker of commercial high-speed screen vibrators, motors and centrifuges bought the one-time home of Walden Dodge Rental at 2185 Walden Ave. from 2185 Walden Partners LLC. Co-owner William W. Derrick said the building has been vacant for six to eight years, since the business closed, and "we've been parking there forever."

"We thought it would be nice if we actually bought the property," he said. "I've had between 35 and 40 cars there forever. I've known them for years."

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