Business Briefs – November 9, 2017

Applications for U.S. Unemployment Benefits Edge Up by 10,000

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits edged up slightly to a still-low 239,000 last week. Meanwhile, the four-week average fell to a fresh 44-year low, evidence that the job market remains healthy.

Applications for jobless aid rose by a seasonally adjusted 10,000 last week after having fallen by 5,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The four-week average, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, dropped to 231,250, a decline of 1,250 from the previous week. It was the lowest level for the four-week average since it stood at 227,750 on March 31, 1973.

U.S. Long-Term Mortgage Rates Decline To 3.9 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates slipped this week, a sign that borrowing costs are largely stable even as the Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark short-term interest rate.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 3.9 percent, from 3.94 percent last week.

The rate is higher than it was a year ago, when it was 3.57 percent. But it is still historically low. Before the 2008 recession, it was typically closer to 6 percent.

Long-term home loan rates tend to track the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes, which have risen since early September, possibly in anticipation of tax cuts pushed by President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, popular with homeowners who are refinancing, fell slightly to 3.24 percent from 3.27 percent last week.

AP Fact Check: China-U.S. Business Deals Are Largely Gloss

BEIJING (AP) – U.S. and Chinese officials have signed a package of trade and investment deals during President Donald Trump’s visit they say it’s worth more than $250 billion. But an AP Fact Check finds that the package is more about the art of diplomacy than the art of the deal. It draws together some new orders, previously worked-out deals, tentative investments and statements of intent that may or may not turn into new dollars and jobs for the U.S.

Department Stores: Macy’s Sales Fall, Kohl’s Profit Drops

NEW YORK (AP) – Macy’s sales fell as it had a hard time pulling shoppers through its doors and Kohl’s reported a drop in quarterly profit Thursday, underscoring just how challenging the winter shopping season will be for department store chains. Like many retailers, Macy’s and Kohl’s have wrestled with weak sales as customers go online.

RT Editor Says Company Will Register as Foreign Agent in US

MOSCOW (AP) – The chief editor of Kremlin-funded satellite media channel RT says the company will accede to a U.S. demand to register as a foreign agent but intends to challenge the issue in court. RT reported Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice has demanded the registration by Monday. RT chief editor Margarita Simonyan said failing to register could mean the arrest of RT’s American director and the freezing of its accounts, so they will do it even though “we categorically disagree” with the demand.