In brief: Nummi auto plant closes

Fremont, Calif. – California’s sole auto plant shut down Thursday as the last car rolled off the assembly line and thousands of now unemployed workers walked out the doors, some crying.

A red Toyota Corolla was the last of nearly 8 million vehicles that have moved through production at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., known as Nummi.

The Nummi plant, established in 1984 as a joint venture between GM and Toyota Motors Corp., employed 4,700 workers. GM made the Pontiac Vibe there but decided to withdraw from the alliance last year after filing for bankruptcy protection.

Toyota made the Corolla sedan and Tacoma pickup at the plant but said in August that without GM, it could not sustain the factory.

Associated Press

Mortgage rates top 5 percent

McLean, Va. – Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages climbed above 5 percent this week as a Federal Reserve program geared to keep interest rates low came to an end.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 5.08 percent this week from 4.99 percent last week, mortgage finance company Freddie Mac said Thursday.

Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages fell to a record low of 4.71 percent in December and have hovered around 5 percent since. Rates were kept down by the Fed’s $1.25 trillion program to buy up mortgage-backed securities issued by Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae.

The Fed’s program ended Wednesday.

Associated Press

PC pioneer dies of pneumonia

Macon, Ga. – Dr. Henry Edward Roberts, a developer of an early personal computer that inspired Bill Gates to found Microsoft, died Thursday in Georgia. He was 68.

Roberts, whose build-it-yourself kit concentrated thousands of dollars worth of computer capability in an affordable package, inspired Bill Gates and his childhood friend Paul Allen to come up with Microsoft in 1975 after they saw an article about the MITS Altair 8800 in Popular Electronics.

Roberts, an ex-military man who later went on to careers as a farmer and a physician, died in a Macon hospital after a long bout with pneumonia.

Associated Press

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