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August 15, 2013 01:16 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are sinking after warnings from two major companies. Before the start of trading, Wal-Mart cut its estimates for annual revenue and profit, warning that cautious shoppers are spending less. The news followed a revenue forecast from Cisco Systems late yesterday that was weaker than Wall Street expected.

  • Average rates on fixed mortgages are holding steady. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan remained unchanged this week at 4.4 percent. That's a full percentage point higher than in early May. The average on the 15-year fixed loan edged up to 3.44 percent from 3.43 percent.  Mortgage rates spiked in June after Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that the Federal Reserve could slow its bond purchases this year.
  • Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has sharply boosted its stake in General Motors. As of June 30, Berkshire had 40 million shares of the auto maker, according to a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That's up 60 percent from the stake reported as of March 31. Meanwhile, the company has slashed its stake in Kraft Foods Group Inc. by 88 percent and its stake in Mondelez International Inc. by 92 percent. The two companies split up late last year.
  • A person familiar with the matter says Ford will reduce the gas mileage estimates on the window stickers of its C-Max hybrid. The person says the mileage estimate will be cut by nearly 9 percent to 43 mpg. The move comes after an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces mileage estimates. Customers have complained that the C-Max doesn't get the advertised 47 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving.
  • A lawsuit seeking class-action status says the American Heart Association lets Campbell Soup use its "Heart-Check" certification in exchange for fees, even when the company's products don't meet the group's nutritional recommendations. The lawsuit says the AHA seal of approval misleads people into thinking in that products made by Campbell "possess some cardiovascular benefit not enjoyed by products that have not been certified by the AHA." It states the only difference is that Campbell pays for the certification.
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  • Economy/Stocks