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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fed says recession easing, inflation not a threat

The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that the weak economy likely will keep prices in check despite growing concerns that the trillions it’s pumping into the financial system will ignite inflation.

Mortgage rates may have bottomed

NEW YORK – Roger Wald recently discovered he would save $25,000 a year if he refinanced his five-year mortgage at 4.75 percent. Wald, an auto body repairman in Sarasota, Fla., could have gotten that rate last month. But like many homeowners, he waited for rates to fall further. Now, he’s worried he missed his chance. Mortgage rates at some lenders spiked by as much as 1 percent on Wednesday and saw little relief on Thursday, according to mortgage brokers.

Danger of worsening recession drove Fed action

Faced with the danger of a worsening recession, Federal Reserve policymakers at their March meeting took the bold step of plowing $1.2 trillion into the economy to drive down interest rates and entice Americans to start buying again.

Smart Bombs: Taking the pledge

The teen birth rate is up slightly for the second year in a row, which reverses a 14-year decline. This has triggered the usual arguments over abstinence-only sex education vs. the more comprehensive version it replaced. The thinking with abstinence-only is this: Tell teens about sex and they’ll have sex. Tell them about contraceptives and they’ll have even more sex. So have them sign a pledge to abstain.

COSTLIER CABINS

Following his retirement in the mid-1990s, Tom Simons moved to the Heyburn State Park vacation cabin he’d acquired some 30 years prior. The small cabin is in a wooded section of the 8,000-acre park, within easy walking distance of Chatcolet Lake. “I like it here. You’ve got the lake and all the trees and it’s nice and quiet,” said Simons, who is 73.

States want more say on fixing mortgage mess

Lowering mortgage interest rates will not by itself keep hard-pressed owners in their homes, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said last week. He said lenders will have to accept reductions in the principal due if they want borrowers to stay in their homes.

In brief: Businesses give Avista good marks

Avista Corp. ranked fourth among 19 Western utilities for customer satisfaction among business clients that spend $500 to $50,000 per month on electricity. The study was conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, a company that specializes in market research and forecasting. The 2009 Electric Utility survey was based on interviews with 15,400 U.S. businesses. The survey included questions about power reliability, price, customer service and corporate citizenship.

Fed ready to do more

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it stands ready to use new unconventional tools, or expand existing ones, to spur lending and consumer spending that could help lift the economy out of a painful recession. The Fed also agreed to keep the targeted range for the federal funds rate between zero and 0.25 percent for “some time” to help brace the economy. Economists predict the Fed will keep the funds rate, the interest banks charge each other on overnight loans, at that record low level through the rest of this year.

Avista wants more money

Avista Utilities today asked Washington and Idaho regulators to approve electricity and natural gas increases that will boost average combined monthly payments $9 to $10 per month.

Teen birth rates on the rise

WASHINGTON – U.S. teen birth rates rose sharply in 2006, according to figures released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ending a 14-year decline. While U.S. teen birth rates remained the highest in the industrialized world, the long decline had amounted to a 45 percent reduction since 1991.

Airway Heights raises sewer rates for new facility

Airway Heights sewer rates will rise another $7.50 this year to boost the construction of the city’s new $44 million wastewater treatment plant. About 750 residents have a sewer account with the city, which has a population of more than 5,000. The rates will increase to $67.50 in January.

Mortgage rates fall to record low

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to a record low for the second straight week, causing refinancing applications to surge to the highest level in more than five years, a month after the Federal Reserve pledged to channel billions to prop up the sinking U.S. housing market. While homeowners around the country are taking advantage of historically low rates to refinance their loans, the opportunity isn’t available to those with poor credit or little equity in their homes, and foreclosures are still likely to surge.

Mortgage rates fall; unemployment stays high

WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates are falling as this week's dramatic action by the Federal Reserve provides a boost to the dismal housing market, but the nation's unemployment rolls are stuck at historically high levels amid a deepening recession.

Fed drops benchmark rate to near zero

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve, urgently rewriting its playbook to fight a deepening recession, cut its benchmark interest rate to as low as zero Tuesday, a surprisingly strong step that should make it cheaper for Americans to borrow on credit cards and pay their mortgages. Wells Fargo, Wachovia and U.S. Bancorp immediately lowered their prime lending rates from 4 percent to 3.25 percent, and other banks will probably follow suit. Economists cautioned, though, that people frightened by the economy and worried about their own jobs may not feel like taking on more debt.

Avista seeking Idaho rate increases

North Idaho households could pay Avista Corp. an extra $10.70 per month for electricity next year, if state regulators approve a proposed rate increase. The utility sent the requested 15.9 percent increase to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission on Friday. If approved, the rate hike would bring what Avista describes as a typical homeowner's electric bill to $78.08 per month