Fixed mortgage rates rise

WASHINGTON (AP) – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose for the second straight week, staying slightly above historic lows.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.59 percent, up from 3.55 percent last week. Two weeks ago, the rate fell to 3.49 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, rose to 2.84 percent. That’s up from 2.83 percent last week and a record low of 2.80 percent the previous week.
Cheap mortgages have helped drive a modest housing recovery this year. Home sales are higher than last year, although they are still below healthy levels.

New car prices stabilize

LOS ANGELES – New car prices have stabilized after rising quickly coming out of the recent recession, a new report shows.
A study by market research firm J.D. Power and Associates found that the average transaction price for a new automobile year-to-date is $28,013, down slightly from the $28,337 logged for all of last year.
It’s the first time the price has declined since 2008.
In 2008, the average incentive per car sold was $3,018. By last year, that had dropped to $2,686.
– Los Angeles Times

GE recalls dishwashers

General Electric Co. is recalling about 1.3 million dishwashers after electrical failures sparked fires that caused “extensive” property damage.
“Consumers should stop using these dishwashers immediately and disconnect the power,” Inez Moore Tenenbaum, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, said Thursday.
The units were sold from March 2006 to August 2009 under brand names including GE Adora, GE Eterna, GE Profile and Hotpoint for as much as $850, the agency said in a statement. It said seven fires were reported among 15 heating-element failures, with three blazes causing “extensive” damage.
– Bloomberg News

E-TRADE dumps its CEO

NEW YORK (AP) – E-Trade Financial has ousted its CEO, Citigroup veteran Steven Freiberg, just two years into a four-year contract as the online broker deals with declining trading by customers.
The company said Thursday that it’s looking for a new CEO as it adjusts its business strategy, which is focused on strengthening its financial position. It named its chairman to the top spot until a permanent replacement can be found.
E-Trade has been struggling as individual consumers pull money out of the stock market. The New York company’s net income dropped 16 percent in the April-June quarter as investors made far fewer trades than a year ago. Faced with less trading activity, E-Trade said it was focusing on managing costs and dialing back on risk to strengthen earnings.
Freiberg, 55, was with Citigroup Inc. for 30 years before that, where he most recently led the consumer group that handles individual investments, retail banking and credit cards.

Wendy’s sees sales increase

NEW YORK (AP) – The Wendy’s Co.’s push to transform itself as a higher-end hamburger chain is showing early signs of taking hold.
The Dublin, Ohio-based fast food company says a key sales figure rose 3.2 percent in the second quarter, helped by renovated restaurants, new menu items such the Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club sandwich and a new TV ad campaign.
Sales at restaurants open at least 15 months is a key gauge because it strips out the impact of newly opened and closed locations.
Wendy’s said the boost was driven by increased spending per visit, which is in line with its long-term goal of enticing customers to pay more for higher-quality food.