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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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College loan rates to jump

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Interest rates on federally backed loans for college students are set to jump by a record amount on July 1, lending institutions said Tuesday.

Based on the results of a Treasury bill auction, the in-school rate on the federal Stafford loan should rise by 1.93 percentage points to 4.7 percent.

The rate for loans in repayment should rise by the same percentage to 5.3 percent, while the PLUS loan rate for parents should rise to 6.1 percent.

The new rates were calculated by the SLM Corp., better known as Sallie Mae, one of the leading college lenders. It is based in Reston, Va.

The rates are based on the three-month Treasury bill auctioned Tuesday. That bill carried a discount rate of 2.935 percent. The discount rate a year ago, before the Federal Reserve started to raise its guiding interest rate, was 1.050 percent. That resulted in the lowest interest rates ever for student loans.

Weyerhaeuser loses antitrust appeal

A federal appeals court Tuesday upheld an antitrust judgment of nearly $80 million against timber giant Weyerhaeuser Co. for trying to maintain a monopoly on alder logs.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirmed the 2003 verdict of a U.S. District Court jury in Portland, which found that Weyerhaeuser artificially increased prices for alder logs to drive Ross-Simmons Hardwood Lumber Co. of Longview, Wash., and others out of business.

Weyerhaeuser appealed, arguing that it had no market power in the alder log business, so antitrust law did not apply. The company asked for a new trial, arguing Judge Owen Panner’s instructions to the jury misstated the law of predatory overbidding. It also sought a reversal of the damage award on grounds it was based on speculation.

EU official optimistic on textiles standoff

European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson said Tuesday a negotiated settlement to the textiles standoff with China can be found despite Beijing’s decision to scrap export tariffs on textile goods.

“We’re finding a way forward with the Chinese,” Mandelson said. “It’s work in progress … What I am looking for on textiles is an overall negotiated settlement between us.”

He said such a deal – temporary in scope – would cut imports and give “sufficient breathing space” for Europe’s embattled textiles industry to restructure. The industry is currently struggling with a “sharp surge” in cheaper Chinese imports, Mandelson said.

Price of gas down to national average of $2.10

The retail price of gasoline fell by nearly 3 cents last week to average $2.10 a gallon nationwide, the Energy Department reported Tuesday.

The weekly government survey said the average price nationwide of regular-grade gasoline fell 2.8 cents to $2.097 per gallon, or 4.6 cents a gallon higher than the same time a year ago.

Pump prices were highest on the West Coast, averaging $2.357 a gallon, and cheapest in the Gulf Coast, where motorists paid on average $1.996 a gallon. In the Midwest, gas averages $2.001 per gallon.

One of the key factors underpinning today’s price of gasoline is the high cost of oil – the result of strong demand, tight global supplies and geopolitical uncertainties.

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