Mortgage rates rise with spring buying

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates climbed upward this week, slightly worsening affordability for homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.47 percent from 4.42 percent last week. This benchmark rate averaged 3.97 percent a year ago.

With the start of the traditional spring homebuying season, people shopping for homes are dealing with higher loan costs and fewer properties for sale.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose this week to 3.94 percent from 3.87 percent.

The interest paid by the government is up along with the federal budget deficit in the wake of President Donald Trump's tax cuts and plans by the Federal Reserve to raise short-term borrowing rates for banks.


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Mark Kimball

Kimball named CEO of Murphy hospital

Erlanger Health System has tapped a 20-year hospital manager to serve as the new chief executive of Erlanger Murphy Medical Center, a 25-bed hospital in Western North Carolina with about 400 employees.

Mark Kimball, currently the chief operating officer with NorthCrest Medical Center in Springfield, Tenn., will take over on June 4 as head of Erlanger's newly acquired hospital in Murphy, N.C., which Erlanger acquired on April 1.

When the Erlanger Behavioral Health Center Hospital opens in July, Erlanger will have five hospitals in Hamilton County, one in Bledsoe County and one in North Carolina.

Kimball is a rural healthcare executive with 20 years of leadership experience with several prominent healthcare systems throughout the Southeast, including Behavioral Health Center and Select Specialty Hospital in Memphis, Archbold Medical Center in Camilla, Ga., and Phoebe-Putney Health System in Albany, Ga.


Novartis profit up with heart drug sales

Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis says net income jumped 12 percent in the first quarter, pointing to explosive growth in its heart-failure drug Entresto as its rollout continues, and powerful double-digit percentage growth for psoriasis drug Cosentyx.

The Basel-based powerhouse, one of the world's largest drug companies, said Thursday that first-quarter net profit under new CEO Vas Narasimhan rose to $2.03 billion when accounting for currency changes, up from $1.67 billion a year earlier.

Net sales rose 4 percent to $12.69 billion.

Sales of Cosentyx jumped 35 percent to $580 million, and Entresto sales soared 126 percent to $200 million.


Mattel CEO quits after 14 months

Mattel Inc. announced Thursday that its CEO, Margo Georgiadis, is stepping down and is being succeeded by a company director and former studio executive.

The toy giant, based in El Segundo, Calif., said the board has named Ynon Kreiz, a Mattel director since June 2017, as her replacement, effective April 26.

Mattel, the maker of the iconic Barbie and Fisher-Price brands, said that Georgiadis will serve in an advisory role through May 10 to ensure a smooth transition.

Georgiadis, a former Google executive who took the top spot in February 2017, informed the board of her decision and said she plans to pursue a new opportunity in the technology sector, Mattel said in a statement.


Morgan Stanley has record first quarter profits

Morgan Stanley's first-quarter profits hit a record high, helped by a lower tax bill and a boost in revenue from last quarter's volatile markets.

The New York investment bank reported a profit Wednesday of $2.67 billion, or $1.45 per share, compared with a profit of $1.93 billion, or $1 a share, in the same period a year earlier. Analysts expected Morgan Stanley to earn $1.26 per share, according to FactSet.

While pre-tax profits rose 22 percent from a year earlier, its tax bill fell by 12 percent. The company paid roughly a 21 percent effective tax rate in the quarter, compared with previous years when it paid roughly 30 percent.

Morgan Stanley's institutional securities division had net revenues of $6.1 billion compared with $5.2 billion a year earlier. Most of that gain came from stock sales and trading.

The firm's wealth management business also had a strong quarter, reporting pre-tax profits of $1.2 billion compared with $973 million a year earlier.