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Mortgage rates fall to near all-time low

WASHINGTON — The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage dropped near its all-time low this week, making home-buying and refinancing a bargain for those who can qualify.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan fell to 3.88 percent from 3.98 percent. That’s just above the rate of 3.87 percent reached in February, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The 15-year mortgage, a popular option for refinancing, plunged to a fresh low of 3.11 percent from 3.21 percent last week. The previous record of 3.13 percent was hit last month.

Mortgage rates are lower because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Last week’s disappointing report on March job growth led more investors to sell stocks and buy Treasurys, which are considered safer investments. As demand for Treasurys increases, the yield falls.

Google will issue new shares in split

NEW YORK — Google reported a 61 percent increase in its net income for the first three months of the year and announced plans to issue a new class of stock to shareholders. The new shares won’t have any voting power and will help Google’s senior leaders keep control years from now.

Under the plan, expected to win approval in June, all current stockholders would get one share of the new Class C stock for each share they now own. This effectively splits Google’s stock price in half.

Google’s stock climbed $3.09, or about 0.5 percent, to $654.10 in after-hours trading. The stock had closed up $15.05, or 2.4 percent, to $651.01.

When the split happens, the value of existing shares will be split into two, so half remains with the existing Class A shares and the remainder will be with the new Class C shares. Investors will have twice the number of shares than before, but the total value and voting power won’t change. The new class of shares will get its own ticker symbol.

In other news

A 10-MONTH SLIDE in natural gas prices took a breather after the government said U.S. supplies didn’t grow as much as expected last week. The futures contract price slipped by just a tenth of a penny Thursday to finish at $1.983 per 1,000 cubic feet. That’s a 10-year low, but the prices was relatively stable compared with Wednesday, when fears of surging supplies sent futures tumbling 2.3 percent, to the lowest price since Jan. 28, 2002. Natural gas prices have been falling since last June.


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Changes at Ft. Gordon

Maj. Gen. Stephen Fogarty will be assigned commanding general at the center and of Fort Gordon, replacing Maj. Gen. Lawarren Patterson.
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