NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slightly higher in early trading on Wall Street. Traders are weighing some positive economic reports against more declines in technology companies. Banks are also in focus after the Federal Reserve denied Citigroup's proposal to raise its dividend and buy back more stock. The Fed approved plans by other banks to raise their dividends.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy improved at a slightly better pace than previously estimated at the end of last year. The Commerce Department now says the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent from October to December, up from last month's estimate of 2.4 percent. That's because consumer spending rose at an annual rate of 3.3 percent — its best quarterly pace since 2010. Growth in the overall economy was still slower than the previous quarter's 4.1 percent pace.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest level since late November. The Labor Department says applications dropped by 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 311,000. The less volatile four-week average was down 9,500 to 317,750.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average rates on fixed mortgages are higher this week following comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen suggesting that the Fed could start raising short-term interest rates by the middle of next year. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan has increased to 4.40 percent from 4.32 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.42 percent from 3.32 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Figures from a trade group today point to slow real estate sales over the next few months. The National Association of Realtors says the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the eighth-straight month in February. The group says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dropped 0.8 percent to 93.9. The index has fallen 10.5 percent over the past 12 months. The realtors also predict sales will slip to 5 million this year from 5.1 million in 2013.