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US Average Mortgage Rates Edge Up; 30-Year at 4.86%

US Average Mortgage Rates Edge Up; 30-Year at 4.86%

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged slightly higher this week amid continued anxiety in financial markets as interest rates rise.

Home borrowing rates remain at their highest levels in more than seven years, with the key 30-year rate approaching 5 percent. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages ticked up to an average 4.86 percent this week from 4.85 percent last week. A year ago, it stood at 3.94 percent.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 4.29 percent this week from 4.26 percent last week.

US Durable Goods Orders Edged up Modest 0.8%

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods slowed significantly in September, while a key category that tracks business investment fell for a second straight month.

The Commerce Department says demand for durable goods edged up a slight 0.8 percent in September, a sharp slowdown from a 4.6 percent jump in August. The swing was heavily influenced by the volatile aircraft category, which fell 17.5 percent in September after having surged 63.7 percent August.

The category that serves as a proxy for business investment dipped 0.1 percent in September following a 0.2 percent fall in August. The recent weakness in investment orders has raised concerns about whether a growing trade war with China and stock market volatility were making businesses more cautious.

Ex-IMF Chief as He Enters Prison: ‘I Ask Forgiveness’

Former International Monetary Fund chief Rodrigo Rato is apologizing for his crimes as he starts a 4½-year prison sentence for misusing a Spanish bank’s corporate credit card.

Rato said as he entered a prison outside Madrid on Thursday, “I accept my obligations to society, I admit the mistakes I may have made and I ask forgiveness from society and the people who may have been affected or felt let-down.”

The National Court last year convicted him of unlawful misappropriation of funds during his 2010-12 leadership of Bankia, a bank that was later bailed out. Rato had denied that the credit cards were used for irregular and undeclared expenses.

Rato was IMF chief from 2004 to 2007 and previously a leading figure in Spain’s conservative Popular Party and Spanish economy minister.

Comcast 3Q Net Income Rises on More Internet Customers

Cable company Comcast says its net income rose 9 percent in the third quarter as more high-speed internet customers offset a decline in video customers.

The company is taking over European pay-TV operator Sky as more cable and telecom companies buy up the companies that make and distribute TV shows and movies to compete in a changing media landscape.

The Philadelphia company’s net income rose 9 percent to $2.89 billion, or 62 cents per share, from the prior-year period. Excluding one-time items, net income totaled 65 cents per share. That beat analyst expectations of 61 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 5 percent to nearly $22.14 billion from $21.08 billion. Analysts expected $21.85 billion.

Valero Energy: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) on Thursday reported third-quarter net income of $856 million.

On a per-share basis, the San Antonio-based company said it had net income of $2.01.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.95 per share.

The oil refiner posted revenue of $30.85 billion in the period, falling short of Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $31.82 billion.

Valero Energy shares have declined almost 6 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has declined nearly 1 percent. The stock has climbed 12 percent in the last 12 months.

Altria: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Altria Group (MO) on Thursday reported third-quarter profit of $1.94 billion.

The Richmond, Virginia-based company said it had profit of $1.03 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.08 per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.07 per share.

The owner of Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette maker posted revenue of $6.04 billion in the period. Its adjusted revenue was $4.53 billion, which missed Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.22 billion.

Altria expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.95 to $4.03 per share.

Altria shares have declined 13 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has decreased nearly 1 percent. The stock has decreased almost 3 percent in the last 12 months.

Bristol-Myers: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) on Thursday reported third-quarter earnings of $1.9 billion.

The New York-based company said it had net income of $1.16 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were $1.09 per share.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 91 cents per share.

The biopharmaceutical company posted revenue of $5.69 billion in the period, which missed Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.72 billion.

Bristol-Myers expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.80 to $3.90 per share.

Bristol-Myers shares have decreased 20 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has fallen roughly 1 percent. The stock has declined 23 percent in the last 12 months.

Merck Posts Global Sales of $11B in Third Quarter

Merck is reporting better-than-expected profits and global sales of nearly $11 billion during the third quarter.

The the Kenilworth, New Jersey, drugmaker on Thursday reported net income of $1.95 billion, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier. Per-share profit was 73 cents, or $1.19 when adjusted for costs related to mergers and acquisitions. That’s 3 cents better than industry analysts were projecting.

Revenue was $10.79 billion.

Merck expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.30 to $4.36 per share, with revenue in the range of $42.1 billion to $42.7 billion.

Shares of Merck & Co. have risen 25 percent this year.

Southwest 3Q Profit Rises on More Passengers, Flights

Southwest Airlines is reporting profits rose more than 16 percent during the third quarter as it booked more passengers on more flights.

The company earned $615 million, or $1.08 per share, beating estimates by 2 cents, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue rose 5.1 percent to $5.58 billion, also edging out forecasts.

Revenue for every seat flown one mile — a figure that airline investors watch closely — rose 2.3 percent during the quarter.

Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said, however, that year-over-year unit cost inflation will rise 3 percent, excluding fuel and gas expenses, as the carrier updates its fleet.

Shares of Southwest Airlines Co. slid almost 7 percent before the opening bell Thursday, though Kelly said the company still hopes to expand margins.

Hershey: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Hershey Co. (HSY) on Thursday reported third-quarter profit of $263.7 million.

The Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company said it had profit of $1.25 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs and costs related to mergers and acquisitions, were $1.55 per share.

The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.56 per share.

The chocolate bar and candy maker posted revenue of $2.08 billion in the period, which met Street forecasts.

Hershey expects full-year earnings in the range of $5.33 to $5.43 per share.

Hershey shares have decreased almost 5 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has dropped roughly 1 percent. The stock has declined 1 percent in the last 12 months.

ConocoPhillips: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

ConocoPhillips (COP) on Thursday reported third-quarter profit of $1.86 billion.

The Houston-based company said it had net income of $1.59 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were $1.36 per share.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.17 per share.

The energy company posted revenue of $10.16 billion in the period, also beating Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $9.48 billion.

ConocoPhillips shares have risen 20 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has fallen almost 1 percent. The stock has increased 29 percent in the last 12 months.

Dunkin’: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (DNKN) on Thursday reported third-quarter earnings of $66.1 million.

The Canton, Massachusetts-based company said it had profit of 79 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 83 cents per share.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 73 cents per share.

The owner of the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbin chains posted revenue of $350 million in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $344.2 million.

Dunkin’ expects full-year earnings in the range of $2.80 to $2.82 per share.

Dunkin’ shares have risen 9 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has increased 26 percent in the last 12 months.

Twitter stock surges despite huge drop in users

Twitter’s stock is surging before the opening bell as investors overlook a huge drop in monthly user numbers, and focus instead on stronger-than-expected profit and revenue in the third quarter.

The company is purging malicious and spammy accounts, and blocking the creation of those accounts. It had 326 million monthly users, 9 million less than it counted in the second quarter.

But video advertising is very strong, accounting for more than half of total ad sales in the quarter.

Twitter on Thursday posted earnings of $1.02 per share in the July-September period. Excluding one-time items, earnings were 21 cents per share, far exceeding the 14 cents industry analysts had expected, according to FactSet.

Revenue was $758 million, up 29 percent, and also beating expectations.

Shares spiked 10 percent in premarket trading.

Freight Revenue Drives Union Pacific Profit in 3Q

Union Pacific is posting earnings that exceed most expectations with freight revenue rising.

The railroad on Thursday reported third-quarter earnings of $1.59 billion, or $2.15 per shares. Industry analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research were expecting per-share earnings of $2.09 per share.

Revenue was $5.93 billion in the period, also beating forecasts.

Shares of Union Pacific Corp. have risen almost 5 percent since the beginning of the year.

High Fuel Costs Cut Sharply into American Airlines Profit

Higher fuel costs slashed third-quarter profit at American Airlines by nearly half, and the company says it is responding by growing more slowly and cutting unprofitable flights.

The shares are climbing in trading before Thursday’s opening bell.

American Airlines Group Inc. earned $341 million, down 48 percent from a year ago.

Excluding non-recurring items, American earned $1.13 a share, matching a FactSet forecast.

Revenue is up 5 percent to $11.56 billion, but fuel is up too — by more than 40 percent.

CEO Doug Parker says the company will reduce its planned growth, cancel unprofitable flights and delay taking new planes.

American expects a key measure of revenue per seat to rise in the fourth quarter.

Shares are up $1.04, or 3.4 percent, to $31.38, in early trading.

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