March 29, 2013 in Business

In brief: Mortgage rates inch up, but still near record lows

From Wire Reports
 

WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages edged up this week but remained near historic lows. Low rates have helped drive the housing market’s steady recovery.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year fixed loan rose to 3.57 percent from 3.54 percent last week. That’s near the 3.31 percent reached in November, which was the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage increased last week to 2.76 percent from 2.72 percent last week. The record low of 2.63 percent was also reached in November.

The lowest mortgage rates in decades are spurring more home purchases and refinancing. That’s helped the broader economy. Increased sales are also pushing home prices higher.

Subaru hybrid crossover SUV makes debut at auto show

NEW YORK – Subaru is coming out with a gas-electric hybrid crossover SUV.

The Japanese brand, which specializes in all-wheel-drive vehicles, unveiled the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid on Thursday at the New York International Auto Show.

The company’s first gas-electric hybrid has stop-start technology that shuts down the engine at red lights to save fuel. It has all-wheel-drive capability and the same 8.7-inch ground clearance so it can go on trails.

Subaru expects 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. That’s three miles per gallon better in the city than the gas version with an automatic transmission, but only one mpg better on the highway.

Philip Morris CEO received nearly $25 million in 2012

RICHMOND, Va. – Philip Morris International Inc., the world’s second-biggest cigarette company, awarded its CEO Louis Camilleri a compensation package valued at more than $24.7 million in fiscal 2012, up about 23 percent from the previous year, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing.

The pay package came in a year when the seller of Marlboro and other brands overseas saw its net income grow 2.4 percent to $8.8 billion. Revenue excluding excise taxes rose about 1 percent to $31.4 billion. Shipments rose more than 1 percent to 927 billion cigarettes.

Solar-powered plane to make stops across United States

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – A solar-powered plane that has wowed aviation fans in Europe is set to travel across the United States with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and New York, organizers of the trip announced Thursday.

The plane, Solar Impulse, is expected to be ready to leave from NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., on May 1, although the actual departure will depend on the weather, the plane’s Swiss creators said at a news conference at the NASA center.

The Solar Impulse is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover massive wings and charge its batteries, allowing it to fly day and night without jet fuel. It has the wing span of a commercial airplane but the weight of the average family car, making it vulnerable to bad weather.

Its creators say the Solar Impulse is designed to showcase the potential of solar power and will never replace fuel-powered commercial flights. The delicate, single-seat plane cruises around 40 miles per hour and can’t fly through clouds.


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