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Business news briefs — Dec. 26

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Mortgage rates rise slightly

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.48 percent from 4.47 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.52 percent from 3.51 percent.

Mortgage rates peaked at 4.6 percent in August on expectations that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month in bond purchases. Those purchases push mortgage and other long-term rates lower and encourage borrowing and spending. On Dec. 18, the Fed decided the economy was strong enough to allow it to reduce the monthly purchases by $10 billion.

Mortgage rates are higher than a year ago when the 30-year fixed rate was 3.35 percent and the 15-year was 2.65 percent.

EXECUTIVE DECISION

Disney chairman takes pay cut

Robert Iger, Walt Disney Co.’s chairman and chief executive officer, earned $34.3 million in total pay in fiscal 2013, a 15 percent drop as the company failed to beat its targets as handily as the prior year.

Iger’s pay, based on regulatory reporting rules, included $2.5 million in salary, unchanged from a year ago, along with $8.8 million in stock awards, $8.48 million in option awards and a bonus of $13.6 million, according to a filing yesterday by Disney. His compensation totaled $40.2 million on that basis a year earlier.

Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, posted record sales and profit for a third straight year, according to the filing. The company’s performance was “insufficient” to beat all of the “aggressive performance ranges” set by the board, according to the filing, which cited operating income and earnings per share growth.

COMMODITIES

Crude oil nears $100 a barrel

U.S. crude oil rose 33 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $99.55 a barrel in New York.

Oil prices gained nearly 3 percent last week as optimism about the U.S. economic recovery lifted expectations for the country’s energy demand.

Instability in South Sudan has led some analysts to predict the contract may top $100 a barrel for the first time since mid-October.

WALL STREET

Dow Jones sets another record

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 122.33 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,479.88. It was the 50th record high close for the Dow this year. The index is up 25.8 percent so far in 2013, on pace to have its best year since 1996.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.70 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,842.02 and the Nasdaq composite was up 11.76 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,167.18. With Thursday’s gains, the S&P 500 is up 29.2 percent for the year, or 31.3 percent when dividends are included. The S&P is on track for its best year since 1997.

Bond prices fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 2.99 percent from 2.98 percent Tuesday. The note briefly traded above 3 percent.

Investors cheered the latest signal that the U.S. economy is improving. The Labor Department said the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits fell 42,000 last week to 338,000. The drop was far bigger than economists were expecting and an indication that fewer people were losing their jobs.

T-Mobile rose 74 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $32.93 after the New York Times and other news outlets reported that the Sprint division of Japan’s Softbank was looking to buy the wireless carrier. Twitter rose $3.35, or 5 percent, to $72.31. The stock is up 22 percent this week alone and 76 percent so far this month. Investors continue feeling optimism that the social media company can increase profits from mobile advertising.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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