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Mortgage rates increase for second week in row

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose for a second consecutive week, buoyed by higher bond yields.

Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate rose to 4.80 percent this week from 4.74 percent last week. The average rate on the 15-year loan, a popular refinance option, inched up to 4.09 percent from 4.05 percent.

The 30-year loan rate reached a 40-year low of 4.17 percent in November, and the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 3.57 percent, the lowest level on records dating back to 1991.

Record high foreclosures, a weak job market and expectations that prices will fall further have persuaded potential buyers to hold off on purchasing homes. Historically low rates have done little to boost demand.


Microsoft profits drop

SEATTLE (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. said Thursday that its net income for the latest quarter fell slightly from a year ago, but it beat Wall Street's expectations despite the weak personal computer market.

Sales of Office 2010 to consumers and businesses buoyed the results, as did the popularity of Kinect, Microsoft's new motion-sensing controller for the Xbox 360 video game system.

Microsoft's net income for the October-December quarter was $6.63 billion, compared with $6.66 billion in the same period last year. As a result of stock buybacks, per-share income rose to 77 cents from 74 cents. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting net income of 69 cents per share for the fiscal second quarter.

Much of Microsoft's business depends on selling copies of the Windows operating system and Office desktop software, products that usually rise and fall with fluctuations in the personal computer market.


Newspaper to debut on iPad

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- News Corp. now is set to unveil the Daily, the world's first iPad-only newspaper, Wednesday in New York.

CEO Rupert Murdoch will take the wraps off the tablet publication in the Guggenheim Museum. He will appear with Eddy Cue, Apple Inc.'s vice president of Internet services.

The company sent out invitations to journalists Thursday.

The announcement had been scheduled for Jan. 19 in San Francisco but was postponed to work out technical kinks in the subscription plan.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs originally was set to share the stage, but he has gone on a medical leave of absence.

Journalists have been working on the publication at multiple U.S. bureaus, including Los Angeles and New York. The Daily, which will cover general news, culture and entertainment, will include video.


Chain files for bankruptcy

Ultimate Electronics Inc., the operator of 46 home-entertainment and electronics stores, including one on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga, filed for bankruptcy, citing decreased sales at certain locations and refusal of some suppliers to ship goods on credit.

In Chapter 11 papers filed late Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the company listed both assets and debt in the range of $100 million to $500 million. An affiliate, CC Retail LLC, also sought protection.

Ultimate, based in Thornton, Colo., plans to use Chapter 11 to streamline operations, close "underperforming locations," negotiate more-favorable leases and improve the profitability, F. Bruce Giesbrecht, Ultimate's chief executive officer, said in court papers.


Amherst Fuddruckers closes

The Fuddruckers restaurant on Maple Road in Amherst has closed. The company's owner, Luby's, the Houston-based restaurant chain that owns the company, did not return a call seeking comment. The Fuddruckers in Cheektowaga remains open.

The Maple Road restaurant opened in the late 1980s. It closed in May, 2002, when the franchisee and the landlord could not agree on a lease. It reopened under new management nine months later.

Fuddruckers, a nationwide chain of franchise restaurants, specializes in hamburgers that patrons customize from a table of condiments and toppings.

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