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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

August 28, 2014, 3:06 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief
  • The escalating conflict in Ukraine is combining with disappointing earnings and profit outlooks from several retailers to drag stocks lower today. Trading has been light ahead of the Labor Day holiday. In mid-afternoon trading, the Dow was down about 30 points, while the S&P 500 was about two points lower.
  • More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in July, a sign that buying has improved as mortgage rates have slipped, the number of listings has risen and the rate of price increases has slowed. The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 3.3 percent to 105.9 last month. Still, the index remains 2.1 percent below its level a year ago.
  • The average 30-year U.S. mortgage rate remains at a 52-week low this week. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage is 4.10 percent, the same as last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, has risen to 3.25 percent from 3.23 percent.
  • A mass filing for unemployment and other benefits will begin next week for newly laid-off Atlantic City casino workers. The Showboat and Revel are shutting down this weekend, putting more than 5,000 workers out of work. Trump Plaza will add 1,100 more when it closes Sept. 16. An outreach effort is being set up at Atlantic City's convention center, where more than 100 work stations will be set up to help process workers' claims with the state Department of Labor and other agencies and social service organizations.
  • The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded. Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. tumbled today after reporting weak sales for the second quarter as more teens shop elsewhere. The company says revenue fell 5.8 percent to $890.6 million. Traditional teen stores are facing an uphill battle to turn their businesses around as mall traffic drops and shoppers' tastes change. And expensive standbys like Abercrombie also have lost business to "fast fashion" chains like H&M, known for quickly churning out trendy $9 tops.

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