Business Briefs: Mortgage rates fall in 5 of past 6 weeks

Business Briefs: Mortgage rates fall in 5 of past 6 weeks

July 6th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

BMT to add 148 jobs in Campbell County

A manufacturer of cargo, utility and short-bed trailers plans to expand its East Tennessee facilities with a $3.7 million expansion in Jellico, Tenn., that is expected to add 148 new jobs in Campbell County.

BMT said it will enlarge its existing 31-employee staff at its 2-year-old plant in Jacksboro by adding an operation in nearby Jellico and expanding in Jacksboro.

"Our goal at BMT is not only to be a profitable business but to train the previously incarcerated men in Campbell County with skills that will help them maintain long term employment and to help reduce the recidivism rate here in Campbell County," BMT Manufacturing CEO Tony Simpson said. "BMT works closely with A New Beginning (ANB) to offer a jail-to-job training program where a skilled workforce is lacking."

The company will be locating new operations in an existing building in Jellico and will create 100 jobs at the new location. The Jellico location is set to be operational by then end of 2018. BMT plans on expanding its current operations in Jacksboro, creating 48 new jobs at the facility.

BlueCross employees donate 10,472 meals

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee employees recently donated 10,472 meals to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank to combat critical food shortages the organization faces during the summer.

Donations collected during the summer are critical in allowing the food bank to serve residents throughout the year and in staving off debilitating food shortages.

"When we heard about the food bank's need, we knew our employees would want to help," said Scott Wilson, director of community relations and health foundation for BlueCross.

Gina Crumbliss, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, said "hunger doesn't take a summer vacation" and many children lack adequate nutrition when they don't receive the free and reduced-priced meals available to them every day during the school year.

The BlueCross Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive, organized by the company's Team Blue volunteer program, raised both food and monetary donations to help the food bank.

Mortgage rates fall in 5 of past 6 weeks

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, offering a slight degree of relief to would-be homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.52 percent from 4.55 percent a week ago. Rates have declined in five of the past six weeks. Still, the average rate has increased from a year ago when it stood at 3.96 percent.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans slipped to 3.99 percent from 4.04 percent a year ago.

Despite the recent declines, long-term loan rates remain near their highest levels in seven years. The average 30-year mortgage rate reached a high this year of 4.66 percent on May 24; the 15-year rate hit 4.15 percent that day.

The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point.

Starbucks fires worker for mocking stutterer

Starbucks says an employee in Philadelphia has been fired after reportedly mocking a customer with a stutter.

The coffee chain says the behavior did not reflect the experience customers should have and the employee is no longer with Starbucks.

A person on Facebook posted Sunday that his friend stuttered when giving his name, and that the barista made light of it verbally and then spelled the name with extra letters. The customer with the stutter emailed Starbucks and was offered $5 as an apology, according to the post. Starbucks said Thursday that was not the ideal response, and that it has since apologized to the person directly.

In May, Starbucks held anti-racial bias training for thousands of U.S. employees after a worker at another Philadelphia store called police on two black men waiting for a friend.

Fed says higher rates could slow 2019 growth

Federal Reserve officials last month said they expect to keep raising interest rates and suggested that by next year, they could be high enough that they could start slowing growth, according to minutes of their discussion released Thursday.

While highlighting a strong economy, Fed officials appeared vigilant about emerging risks, especially trade tensions, and the dangers of an economy that might overheat. The officials noted heightened concerns from businesses about President Donald Trump's get-tough trade policies and that some executives had already scaled back future spending plans because of the uncertainty.

Economists said the minutes of the June discussions did not alter their overall view of what the Fed would do this year.

"We continue to expect that fiscal stimulus will push the unemployment rate lower over time and lead the Fed to hike rates two more times this year, in September and December," said Barclays economist Michael Gapin.