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Business Digest: Austin-area gas prices hold steady this week


FUEL

Austin-area gas prices hold steady this week

After rising steadily in recent weeks, Austin-area gasoline prices held steady this week, according to auto club AAA Texas.

The average local price for a gallon of regular gasoline was unchanged at $2.13 per gallon, AAA Texas said.

The average price per gallon had risen 22 cents in the previous five weeks, according to AAA Texas data. Gas prices have been moving higher following OPEC’s announcement that it planned to cut crude oil production by 1.8 million barrels per day.

For Texas as a whole, the average price also was unchanged this week, holding at $2.16 per gallon. The national average was unchanged at $2.36 per gallon, according to AAA data.

MORTGAGE INDUSTRY

Average rate on 30-year loan dips to 4.12%

WASHINGTON — Long-term US mortgage rates fell this week, the second week of declines after snapping a nine-week run of increases.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans eased to an average 4.12 percent from 4.20 percent last week. That was still sharply higher than a 30-year rate that averaged 3.65 percent for all of 2016, the lowest level recorded from records going back to 1971. A year ago, the benchmark rate stood at 3.92 percent.

The average for a 15-year mortgage declined to 3.37 percent from 3.44 percent last week.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

AUTOMAKERS

Ford adds 816,000 vehicles to air bag recall

DETROIT — Ford is adding more than 816,000 vehicles in North America to the growing Takata air bag inflator recall.

The company says the latest callback covers the 2005-2009 and 2012 Mustang and the 2006-2009 and 2012 Ford Fusion, Lincoln Zephyr and Lincoln MKZ. Also included are the 2007-2009 Ford Ranger and Edge, the 2007-2009 Lincoln MKX, the 2006-2009 Mercury Milan and the 2005 and 2006 Ford GT.

All have front passenger air bag inflators made by Takata that can explode with too much force and spew metal shrapnel. At least 16 people have died worldwide from the problem and more than 180 have been hurt.

The recall is among the latest round of Takata recalls covering 5.7 million vehicles involving 17 automakers in the U.S. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

ECONOMY

Applications for jobless aid tick higher

WASHINGTON — More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, but the four-week average remains low.

Weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 247,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, slipped 1,750 to 256,500.

Applications, which are a proxy for layoffs, remain near historic lows. They have been below 300,000 for 97 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1970. Consumer and business confidence have spiked since the presidential election, which could translate into greater spending and business investment.

AIRLINES

Delta posts better-than expected revenue

ATLANTA — Delta reported better-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter, while its adjusted profit met Wall Street’s view. The airline benefited from lower fuel costs.

For the three months through December, Delta earned $622 million, or 84 cents per share. A year earlier the Atlanta-based company earned $980 million, or $1.25 per share.

Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains, were 82 cents per share. Profit fell because of a new pilot contract approved in December. Fuel costs declined during the latest quarter, and the average fuel price per gallon also dropped. Revenue slipped to $9.46 billion from $9.5 billion, but that topped analysts’ expectations.



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