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August home sales highest since 2007

WASHINGTON — U.S. home sales rose last month to the highest level since February 2007 as buyers rushed to close deals before mortgage rates increased further.

Yet the gain could represent a temporary peak if higher rates slow sales in coming months.

Sales of previously occupied homes rose 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in August, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That level is consistent with a healthy market.

August sales reflect contracts signed in June and July, when mortgage rates were rising steadily. The Realtors’ group cautioned that buyer traffic dropped off significantly in August. That points to fewer sales in the fall.

Wells Fargo plans to lay off 1,800

NEW YORK — Wells Fargo plans to lay off an additional 1,800 employees from its mortgage department, aft­er cutting about 2,300 jobs from the unit in August.

Spokesman Alfredo Padillo said Thursday that the San Francisco-based bank is cutting jobs in the mortgage department because fewer people than it expected are refinancing their mortgages.

The affected employees were given 60 days’ notice, Wells Fargo said. The bank said it is looking for other positions for those people within the company.

Wells Fargo & Co. is the largest originator of residential mortgages in the U.S. and ranks as the nation’s second-biggest bank by deposits. It had more than 275,000 employees overall as of June 30.

Former Halliburton manager charged

NEW ORLEANS — A former Halliburton manager was charged Thursday with destroying evidence after BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a case that coincides with a guilty plea to a related charge by the Houston-based oilfield services company.

Anthony Badalamenti, who had been the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., was charged in federal court with instructing two other employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out well.

Halliburton was BP PLC’s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf in April 2010, killing 11 workers and triggering the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

– Associated Press


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