Business Briefs – February 15, 2018

U.S. Mortgage Rates Climb To A Nearly 4-Year Peak

WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates jumped this week to their highest level in nearly four years. It’s a sign that the prospect of higher inflation is steadily increasing the cost of borrowing to buy a home. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.38 percent this week, up from 4.32 percent last week. The average is the highest since April 2014.

Judge Orders Trump Administration To Implement Energy Limits

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered the Trump administration to implement energy-use limits for portable air conditioners and other products that were adopted during the last days of the Obama presidency. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria says Thursday that the Department of Energy was required to publish the limits after a 45-day period to identify any errors and does not have the authority to continue to assess them after that date.

For Builders, Demand and Economy Up; So Are Interest Rates

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. builders are maintaining an optimistic view on sales as the economy improves and demand for homes remains strong. The National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Thursday remained at 72 as expected. That’s still just two points shy of an 18-year high in December. At the same time, long-term U.S. mortgage rates jumped this week to their highest level in nearly four years.

U.S. Bank Pays $613 Million Over Money Laundering Charges

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. Bancorp said Thursday it will pay $613 million in fines and penalties to settle allegations that the bank had poor anti-money laundering controls, which put the bank repeatedly at risk of being used as a conduit for criminals. Regulators say the Minneapolis-based bank “willfully” violated the Bank Secrecy Act, failing to report suspicious activity.

Factory Output Flat for 2nd Straight Month

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. factory output was unchanged in January for the second straight month after three months of healthy gains. The Federal Reserve says production fell in wood products, aircraft and a category including concrete and glass. The past two months’ readings suggest that factory production has slowed in the new year.