Business Briefs – May 12, 2016

Average 30-Year Loan Rate Falls To 3.57 Percent, 3-Year Low

WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for a third straight week, posting new lows for the year. The benchmark 30-year rate reached a three-year low.

The low rates come amid the spring home buying season, luring prospective buyer.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 3.57 percent from 3.61 percent last week. It’s far below its level a year ago of 3.85 percent.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages eased to 2.81 percent from 2.86 percent last week.

Nissan Pays Bargain Price for Mitsubishi Stake, Analysts Say

(AP) – Nissan is spending 237 billion yen ($2.2 billion) for a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors, as that company tries to recover from a scandal over fuel-economy ratings.

Analysts say Nissan is making the move because the price is right and Mitsubishi has sales and technology in areas where Nissan has little.

The deal, announced Thursday in Japan, comes as Mitsubishi’s stock value has fallen dramatically over revelations that the company cheated on Japanese fuel mileage tests. The cheating was discovered by Nissan, which has contracted to sell Mitsubishi mini-cars under the Nissan name.

Across the World, Luxury-Home Sales Get a Reality Check

WASHINGTON (AP) – The global luxury housing market lost some of its sheen last year as financial markets became unsettled and many wealthy buyers began to look for less expensive homes.

“The return of realism,” is how Dan Conn, chief executive of Christie’s International Real Estate, described the global high-end market.

Sales in a sector whose average home prices start at $2.2 million slowed in 2015, increasing by 8 percent, half its 2014 pace. The decline most likely reflects stability rather than weakness, according to a report released Thursday by Christie’s.

Wal-Mart Sharpens Amazon Attack With 2-Day Delivery Service

NEW YORK (AP) – Wal-Mart is sharpening its attack on Amazon.com.

The world’s largest retailer is trimming its free-shipping pilot program to two days from three, and it’s cutting a dollar off the membership price. Membership is now $49 per year.

The Bentonville, Arkansas, company began testing the new service last year in answer to Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping, a big part of its domination of the retail sector.

Amazon membership costs $99 a year, which comes with a varied array of perks.

Cheniere Energy Names Jack Fusco as CEO

NEW YORK (AP) – Cheniere Energy has named Jack Fusco as CEO after the natural gas company’s previous CEO was forced out under pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn.

Fusco was most recently executive chairman of Calpine Corp., which generates electricity from natural gas. He was CEO of the Houston company from 2008 to 2014.

Cheniere’s CEO and co-founder Charif Souki, left in December months after Icahn boosted his stake in the company. Icahn and others questioned the ambitious growth track pursued under Souki.