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Oct 20, 5:26 PM EDT

Business Highlights


Survey: More Americans now have access to bank accounts

NEW YORK (AP) - More Americans have access to a checking or savings account than in past years, according to a survey released Thursday by federal regulators, a sign that the improving economy is helping lift the nation's poorest households.

Having an account is considered a cornerstone of financial stability in the U.S. Without one, households must rely on check-cashing services, prepaid debit cards and other costly ways to pay bills and make routine transactions.

The portion of Americans who do not have a bank account, known as "unbanked," declined to 7 percent in 2015 from 7.7 percent in 2013, according to the FDIC.


Nissan-Renault CEO Ghosn to chair troubled Mitsubishi Motors

TOKYO (AP) - Carlos Ghosn, who heads Japan's Nissan Motor and Renault of France, will become chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, working to restore faith in the troubled automaker after a devastating mileage scandal.

Ghosn, who presided over Nissan's revival from the brink of bankruptcy in the early 2000s after it formed an alliance with Renault, said he expected it would be difficult to restore Mitsubishi's shattered reputation. But the Brazilian-born Frenchman said he believed it was possible.


US stocks snap 2-day winning streak, close slightly lower

A day of mostly listless trading on Wall Street ended Thursday with U.S. stocks giving back modest gains from the day before.

Telecom sector stocks declined the most, weighed down by a slide in shares of phone companies. Only health care stocks eked out a gain. The broad slide snapped a two-day winning streak for the market.

Investors mostly waded through another round of earnings reports, looking to glean insights into the health of corporate America and the U.S. economy. While some companies turned in disappointing results, most of those that have posted earnings so far are beating financial analysts' expectations.


US claims for unemployment benefits rise by 13,000

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to the highest level in five weeks but still remained close to the recent 43-year lows.

Weekly applications for jobless benefits rose by 13,000 last week to 260,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Even with last week's gain, claims, which are a proxy for layoffs, it remains at levels indicating that workers are enjoying job security despite sluggish economic growth.

The increase in benefit applications was bigger than economists had been forecasting but some suggested that disruptions in filing applications earlier caused by Hurricane Matthew might have been a factor.


US home sales rebounded in September despite tight supply

WASHINGTON (AP) - More Americans bought homes in September, many for the first time, despite a persistent shortage of properties for sale.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of existing homes rose 3.2 percent from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million, the strongest pace since June. Sales rose across the country: 5.7 percent in the Northeast, 5 percent in the West, 3.9 percent in the Midwest and 0.9 percent in the South.

Demand for homes is solid but supplies are weak.


Average US 30-year mortgage rises to 3.52 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) - Long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week for a second straight week, reaching their highest levels since June.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.52 percent from 3.47 percent last week. But rates still remain near historic lows. The benchmark 30-year rate is down from 3.79 percent a year ago and close to its all-time low of 3.31 percent in November 2012.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, popular with homeowners who are refinancing, rose to 2.79 percent from 2.76 percent.


American Airlines 3Q profit falls on lower revenue

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Empty seats and labor costs are cutting into profit at American Airlines. But in an encouraging sign for airlines and their investors - and a worrisome one for passengers - American is offering new evidence that higher fares could be just around the corner.

The world's biggest carrier reported Thursday that third-quarter earnings fell 56 percent and would have dropped even more if it weren't for continuing low fuel prices. The company earned $737 million, down from $1.69 billion a year earlier. Revenue slipped 1 percent but costs rose 5 percent.


Walgreens posts strong 4Q earns, but delays Rite Aid deal

Walgreens Boots Alliance earnings topped $1 billion during the fourth quarter, easily surpassing analyst expectations, but the drugstore giant also announced a delay in closing its latest megadeal.

The company said Thursday that it expects to wrap up its $9.4-billion purchase of rival Rite Aid Corp. early next year, rather than by the end of 2016. Walgreens leaders then cautioned analysts against reading too much into the delay.


Verizon still digesting Yahoo hack; 3Q profit falls

NEW YORK (AP) - Verizon said its profit fell in its most recent quarter as it added fewer subscribers for its traditional cellphone business. It also said it's still evaluating how the hack at Yahoo affects its $4.8 billion deal for the company.

Verizon wants Yahoo because it wants to build an online advertising arm that could rival Google and Facebook. But a massive hack of users' email accounts has raised questions about whether Verizon will ask for a discount or other changes.


Union Pacific 3Q profit falls 13 percent as shipments slow

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Union Pacific's profit fell 13 percent in the third quarter because the railroad's efforts to cut costs and improve productivity couldn't offset a 6 percent decline in total freight.

The railroad reported earning $1.13 billion, or $1.36 per share, down from $1.3 billion, or $1.50 per share, last year. Revenue declined 7 percent to $5.17 billion.

The railroad has about 2,700 employees on furlough and 1,500 locomotives in storage to cope with declining demand.


The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 40.27 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,162.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 2.95 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,141.34. The Nasdaq composite index slid 4.58 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,241.83.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.17, or 2.3 percent, to close at $50.43 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid $1.29, or 2.4 percent, to close at $51.38 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.49 a gallon. Heating oil slid 3 cents to $1.56 a gallon. Natural gas lost 3 cents to $3.14 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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