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US mortgage rates jump to 2-year high

WASHINGTON — U.S. mortgage rates have suddenly jumped from near-record lows and are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of buying a home.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed loan soared this week to 4.46 percent, according to a report Thursday from mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. That’s the highest average in two years and a full point more than a month ago.

The surge follows the Federal Reserve’s signal that it could slow its bond purchases later this year. A pullback by the Fed would likely send long-term interest rates even higher.

In the short run, the spike in mortgage rates might be causing more people to consider buying a home soon. Rates are still low by historical standards, and would-be buyers would want to lock them in before they rise further.

Hobby Lobby’s case allowed to continue

DENVER — A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Hobby Lobby has a good case that the federal health care law violates religious beliefs of executives by ordering them to provide birth control to employees, and that the company shouldn’t be subject to millions in fines while its claim is considered.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver decided the Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts chain can proceed with its lawsuit seeking to overturn the birth-control coverage mandate on religious grounds. The judges sent the case back to a lower court in Oklahoma, which previously said Hobby Lobby must comply with the requirement or start paying millions of dollars in fines next week.

The chain argues that for-profit businesses – not just religious groups – should be allowed to seek an exception if the law violates its owners’ religious beliefs.

Feds sue Corzine over MF Global fall

WASHINGTON — Jon Corzine once saw a boutique brokerage called MF Global as his best hope to rescale the heights of Wall Street he’d once occupied as head of Goldman Sachs.

Now, MF Global is bankrupt. And Corzine faces a lifetime ban from the futures industry.

On Thursday, federal regulators sued Corzine, a one-time Democratic U.S. senator and governor of New Jersey. They allege that he was responsible for the misuse of customer money while CEO of MF Global, which collapsed in 2011.

The suit charges that MF Global used customer funds to support its trading operations. About $1.2 billion in customer money vanished when the firm collapsed.


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