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Published on NewsOK Modified: March 26, 2015 at 5:06 pm •  Published: March 26, 2015
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How gov't aims to protect low-income users of 'payday' loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Each month, more than 200,000 needy U.S. households take out what's advertised as a brief loan.

Many have run out of money between paychecks. So they obtain a "payday" loan to tide them over. Problem is, such loans can often bury them in fees and debts. Their bank accounts can be closed, their cars repossessed.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules Thursday to protect Americans from stumbling into what it calls a "debt trap." At the heart of the plan is a requirement that payday lenders verify borrowers' incomes before approving a loan.

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Co-pilot was 'very happy' with Germanwings job

MONTABAUR, Germany (AP) — Andreas Lubitz never appeared anything but thrilled to have landed a pilot's job with Germanwings, according to those who helped him learn to fly as a teenager in this town in the forested hills of western Germany.

On Thursday, French prosecutors said Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, "intentionally" crashed the jet into the side of a mountain Tuesday in the French Alps.

Members of his hometown flight club in Montabaur, where he renewed his glider license last fall, told The Associated Press that the 27-year-old Lubitz appeared to be happy with the job he had at the airline, a low-cost carrier in the Lufthansa Group.

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Perfection doesn't last: Muni bond returns to be more muted

NEW YORK (AP) — Conditions were nearly perfect for municipal bonds last year, leading to sizeable returns. Perfection never lasts, though, and managers of municipal-bond funds are forecasting more modest returns in upcoming years.

The backdrop for municipal bonds last year was as pleasant as the first warm, spring breeze: Interest rates were falling, the economy was strengthening, demand was high for bonds that pay tax-free income and supply was relatively low. Add it up, and the Barclays Municipal Bond index returned 9.1 percent in 2014. Just don't expect a repeat.

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Puerto Rico prepares for luxury shopping amid recession

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A pair of nearly 5-inch black satin heels with a large gold alligator that serves as the front strap retails for almost $1,600 at the first Saks Fifth Avenue store to open in Puerto Rico, more than what the average person here earns in a month and where nearly half the population lives in poverty.

While a nearly decade-long recession has forced many Puerto Ricans to seek a more affordable life on the U.S. mainland, some of the world's priciest retailers have stores at The Mall of San Juan, a $475 million shopping center opening Thursday alongside one of the island's most crime-ridden public housing projects.

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Fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that strong hiring should continue despite signs of slower economic growth at the start of 2015.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for jobless aid fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The decrease suggests that a recent slowdown in manufacturing, housing starts and retail sales have not trickled into the job market, a possible indication that economic growth will rebound after a harsh winter.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, tumbled 7,750 to 297,000. Over the past 12 months, the average has dipped roughly 7 percent.

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Average US rate on 30-year mortgage falls to 3.69 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week for a second straight week, edging closer to historically low levels at the start of the spring home-buying season.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the national average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.69 percent from 3.78 percent last week.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with homeowners who refinance, eased to 2.97 percent from 3.06 percent last week.

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Oil council: Shale won't last, Arctic drilling needed now

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. should immediately begin a push to exploit its enormous trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska, or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil in the future, an Energy Department advisory council says in a study to be released Friday.

The U.S. has drastically cut imports and transformed itself into the world's biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the government predicts that the shale boom won't last much beyond the next decade.

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