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Mortgage rates hit historic lows

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen below 4 percent for the first time in history.

For the lucky few with good jobs and stable finances, it’s a rare opportunity to save potentially thousands of dollars each year. For most people, it’s a tease and a reminder of how weak their own financial situation is.

On Thursday, Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.94 percent from 4.01 percent last week, the previous low. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinancing option, dipped to 3.26 percent, also a record.

Mortgage rates are now lower than they were in the early 1950s. The average rate reached 4.08 percent for a few months back then, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, although mortgages at that time typically lasted only 20 or 25 years.

Super low rates haven’t been enough to lift the housing market, which has struggled in recent years with anemic sales and declining home prices.

Associated Press

Noted hot dog chain staying with family

An Ohio judge’s decision means a hot dog chain that earned a place in pop culture on the TV series “M.A.S.H.” will stay in the family.

The family feud over ownership of Tony Packo’s played out in a Toledo courtroom Tuesday.

A county judge gave control of the company to a private restaurant group that plans to put Tony Packo Jr. and his son back in charge of the chain.

The restaurant was made famous 35 years ago after being mentioned on six episodes of “M.A.S.H.” during the show’s run in the 1970s and ’80s. The dogs were favorites of cross-dressing Cpl. Max Klinger on the show.

A dispute between descendants of the restaurant’s namesake erupted this summer, causing both sides to make bids to take over the company.

Associated Press

September bargains drew customers

September offered the latest sign that Americans will shop, but only when they think they’re getting a deal.

The International Council of Shopping Centers said Thursday that revenue rose 5.5 percent in September, with several retailers including Target, Limited Brands and Kohl’s posting strong gains as consumers snagged discounted merchandise.

The revenue increases, which beat Wall Street estimates, leave uncertainty about whether retailers will have to offer more bargains to lure consumers during the holiday shopping season. Retailers can make up to 40 percent of their revenue during the period.

Associated Press