Business Briefs – July 21, 2016

Still-Low Mortgage Rates Ushering New Refi Wave

Mortgage interest rates have remained low for so long, lenders and borrowers alike have been expecting rates would only creep higher. Instead, they’ve tested record lows.

That’s prompting a flurry of purchases and refinancings as consumers rush to take advantage. Mortgage borrowing has jumped to the highest level in three years, according to quarterly data provided by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinancing applications have posted big increases this month.

These rates can mean big savings, but there’s a catch: First, you have to qualify. Bad credit and insufficient home equity remain hurdles to refinancing.

Chipotle Out of Character in Struggle to Win Back Customers

NEW YORK (AP) – Chipotle’s struggle to win back customers could be a long one.

The company said Thursday its sales were down 23.6 percent during the second quarter as it fights to recover from a series of food scares. That follows a 30 percent drop at established locations in the first three months of the year, when Chipotle posted its first quarterly loss as a public company.

Chipotle’s profit fell to $25.6 million, or 87 cents per share for the second quarter. A year ago, the company earned $140.2 million, or $4.45 per share.

US Unemployment Applications Dip to 253,000 Last Week

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, falling to the lowest point in 13 weeks.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly benefit applications dipped to 253,000, the lowest level since it stood at 248,000 for the week of April 16.

Weekly claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, have been below 300,000 for 72 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since 1973. The less volatile four-week average declined to 257,750, down from 259,000 the previous week.

 Roger Ailes is Out as Head of Fox News, Fox Business

NEW YORK (AP) – Roger Ailes is out as chief executive at Fox News Channel, his career at the network he built from scratch and ran with an iron hand for nearly 20 years. Network parent 21st Century Fox said that Rupert Murdoch, the company’s executive chairman, would run Fox News and its sister Fox Business Network, which Ailes had also led, until a successor could be found.