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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

March 6, 2014, 1:39 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are mixed in afternoon trading on Wall Street. Two hours before the close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial averge was up 52 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was about flat and the Nasdaq composite index was down 16. Investors are looking ahead to tomorrow's February employment report. Staples stock is plunging after the company said it was closing 10 percent of its stores as more people shop online. Kroger rose after reporting higher sales at its supermarkets.

  • The Federal Reserve says the stock market surge and rebounding home prices at the end of last year pushed Americans' wealth to a record high. Household net worth jumped nearly $3 trillion during the last three months of 2013, to $80.7 trillion. Stock and mutual fund portfolios gained nearly $1.7 trillion, or 9 percent. The value of Americans' homes rose just over $400 billion, a 2 percent gain. And checking account balances, pensions plan assets and retirement savings, such as 401(k)s, also increased. However, the gains have slowed so far in 2014.
  • Average rates on fixed mortgages have fallen after three weeks of increases, edging closer to historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan declined this week to 4.28 percent from 4.37 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage fell to 3.32 percent from 3.39 percent.
  • Kentucky transportation officials are suing the crew of a cargo ship that struck and collapsed part of a bridge, causing millions in damage and diverting traffic for four months. The state Transportation Cabinet says in a lawsuit moved to federal court this week that it spent at least $7 million to repair the Eggner's Ferry Bridge over the Tennessee River after the Delta Mariner struck it on Jan. 26, 2012. The lawsuit says the ship's crew ignored warnings from the Coast Guard that the bridge's navigation lights were out.
  • Google's mystery barge is floating toward its new home in California's delta after being ordered to leave San Francisco. The barge departed from Treasure Island early today to comply with a regulatory order concluding that Google didn't have the proper permits to build the four-story vessel there. Google says the odd-looking vessel is moving 80 miles east to Stockton, where it will eventually serve as an interactive technology center.

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