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August 18, 2011 01:59 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

The kind of wild swing that dominated last week's trading returned to Wall Street today. The Dow has been down as many as 500 points, amid renewed concerns about a global economic slowdown.

  • July was another weak month for home sales. The National Association of Realtors says between troubled appraisals and credit problems, sales of previously-owned homes fell 3.5 percent last month. It is the third decline in four months.
  • For those who can qualify, it is a good time to get a mortgage. Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to its lowest level on records dating to 1971, down to 4.15 percent.
  • No sign of a recession in the latest index of leading indicators from The Conference Board. The business research's forward-looking index rose 0.5 percent in July. The group's economist says despite growing risks, the economy should grow at a modest pace later this year.
  • Between flat or lower sales and management changes, the parent of Sears and Kmart stores says it
    couldn't reduce the flow of red ink in the latest quarter. Sears Holdings lost $144 million. Analysts note it has continued to cut costs without investing in its stores.