Business news briefs
U.S. trade gap
two year low
The U.S. trade deficit declined to the lowest level in nearly two years as exports rose dramatically, though the gain may not last given a global economic slowdown. Exports climbed to an all-time high of $187 billion, narrowing the deficit to $41.5 billion in September, the smallest since December 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage was little changed this week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year loan rose to 3.40 percent from 3.39 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage slipped to 2.69 percent. That's down from 2.70 percent last week and close to the record low of 2.66 percent reached three weeks ago.
Extra Space to
buy 28 facilities
Extra Space Storage, a Salt Lake City-based operator of self storage facilities,is poised to acquire interest in 28 additional properties for approximately $190 million. The company said it will acquire a partner's interest in 21 storage properties in 11 states. It also has entered into an agreement to acquire seven properties in Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
United Airlines said Superstorm Sandy cut its October revenue by about $90 million as it was forced to cancel almost 5,300 flights. That's nearly an entire day's worth of United's schedule lost. Delta Air Lines Inc. said last week Sandy cut its October revenue by $45 million and profit by $20 million.
Employee 401(k) accounts grew more than 4 percent in the third quarter as a rising stock market boosted investment returns, and contributions from workers and their employers increased. Fidelity Investments, the nation's largest 401(k) administrator, said the average balance of $75,900 at the end of the quarter was the highest since it began tracking the data in 2000.
The number of people nationwide seeking jobless benefits fell last week by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 355,000, a possible sign of a healing job market. But officials cautioned that the figures were distorted by Superstorm Sandy. The Labor Department said the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose by 3,250 to 370,500.
Judge asked to
okay BP deal
BP and attorneys for those who lost money in the Gulf oil spill urged U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in Louisiana to give final approval to a class-action settlement. BP estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to the resolve claims, but the settlement is not capped and BP could pay out more or less.