National business briefs for May 23, 2014

National business briefs for May 23, 2014
By The Associated Press Published: May 22, 2014
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Business briefs

Mortgage rates fall

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for a fourth straight week. The low rates could give a boost to the spring home-buying season, which has started slowly. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year loan declined to 4.14 percent from 4.20 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.25 percent from 3.29 percent. Warmer weather has yet to boost home-buying as it normally does. Rising prices and higher rates have made affordability a problem for would-be buyers.

Hess gets makeover

The Hess name will disappear from gas station signs after a $2.87 billion deal to sell the chain to Marathon Petroleum’s Speedway, but the holidays will still see the popular Hess toy truck. The deal gives Marathon Petroleum the retail operations of Hess, the largest chain of company-operated gas stations and convenience stores on the East Coast. The Hess stations will all be rebranded as Speedway over three years, the company said. It also keeps the Hess toy truck on holiday wish lists — as they will still be sold at Hess retail stores and online this year.

Home sales grow slightly

Sales of existing U.S. homes rebounded slightly in April, but the pace of buying remained below last year’s level. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales rose 1.3 percent from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million. Purchases of homes over the past 12 months have dropped 6.8 percent. Much of the gains were concentrated in the volatile condominium market, which experienced growth of 7.3 percent. Sales of single-family homes were up just 0.5 percent last month.

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