Mortgage rates rise above 8%For the first...

Mortgage rates rise above 8%

For the first time in more than a year, the average interest rate nationally on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages has risen above 8 percent, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said yesterday.


The average rate of 8.04 percent for the current week is the highest since the week that ended Jan. 15 last year, when it was at the same level, and compares with 7.80 percent the previous week.

Hagerstown yogurt plant closing


General Mills Inc. will close its Colombo yogurt processing plant in Hagerstown, leaving 34 workers jobless, company officials said.

General Mills, which bought Colombo in December, will save money by combining Colombo's processing with its own Yoplait brand, said spokesman Craig Shulstad. Officials announced the Oct. 1 closing Wednesday.

L Another Colombo plant, in Springfield, Mo., also will close.

Aegon net profit up 8% for year

Aegon NV, the Dutch insurance company active throughout Europe and the United States, said net income last year rose 8 percent, to 1 billion guilders, or $541 million. The result means the company has maintained its position as one of the 10 leading insurance companies in the world, Aegon said.

Revenue jumped 44 percent, to 22.1 billion guilders, or $11.9 billion, because of acquisitions and sharp increases in premium income from life insurance and in investment earnings.

Life insurance sales of Baltimore-based Monumental Life and Western Reserve Life, subsidiaries of Aegon NV, contributed to the overall increase in U.S. premium income of 23 percent, the Dutch company said.

U.S. leads global rise in mergers


Worldwide corporate mergers rose 27 percent in the first quarter, to $91.5 billion, spurred by high stock prices, low interest rates and expansion plans, according to information compiled by Securities Data Co.

Among the transactions that drove the increase was Viacom Inc.'s $8 billion planned purchase of Blockbuster Entertainment Corp.

The rise was led by a 70 percent increase in U.S. mergers, to $51.7 billion, the highest since the first quarter of 1989.

Filings for jobless pay dip

The number of Americans filing the first time for state unemployment benefits continued to slide last week, dropping by 10,000, the government reported yesterday.

It was the lowest level for the weekly figure in a month.


The Labor Department said a seasonally adjusted 330,000 people filed initial claims, down from 340,000 the previous week. That continued a three-week decline in initial jobless claims. It was the eighth time in 10 weeks that the number has dropped.