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U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell for the sixth consecutive week, with the key 30-year loan average running below 4% and at its lowest point since September 2017.

The declining rates have been a boon to potential purchasers in the spring home buying season, and the number of homeowners seizing the opportunity to refinance mortgages jumped this week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 3.82% from 3.99% last week. By contrast, a year ago the benchmark rate stood at 4.54%.

The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans declined this week to 3.28% from 3.46%.

Applications for refinancing jumped 6 percent in the week ended May 31 from a week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

 

 

Google to acquire data firm Looker

Google is acquiring data analytics firm Looker for $2.6 billion cash in an effort to expand its Google Cloud business.

The company says Looker will give its cloud-computing customers more ways to use their data. The companies were already working together and share about 350 customers including Buzzfeed, Hearst and Yahoo! The deal is expected to close later this year.

Cloud computing involves companies using remote servers to house their data rather than storing things locally. Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Alphabet Inc.'s Google are some of the biggest players in the increasingly competitive market.

 

Ford closes plant, idles 1,700 in Wales

A Ford engine plant in Wales that employs 1,700 people is "economically unsustainable" and will close next year, the carmaker announced Thursday.

The company blamed declining sales of gasoline engines and the end of a contract with Jaguar Land Rover for the closure, due in September 2020.

Ford's European president, Stuart Rowley, said "changing customer demand and cost disadvantages, plus an absence of additional engine models for Bridgend going forward make the plant economically unsustainable in the years ahead."

He said there would be an "enhanced separation program," including help for employees to get new jobs or start their own businesses.

The Bridgend plant opened in 1980 and is a major employer in Wales.

 

Eurozone to keep interest rates low

The European Central Bank has taken action to support the economy in the 19-country eurozone, joining other major central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserve in responding to fears about global trade conflicts.

The ECB said Thursday it would extend the earliest date for an interest rate increase from year-end to mid-2020. Its benchmark rates are currently at record lows.

The central bank also said it would offer low rates on previously announced two-year loans to banks, provided that the banks exceed lending benchmarks — a step aimed at keeping credit flowing to businesses.

The moves from the eurozone's monetary authority come just two days after Fed Chair Jay Powell signaled a shift in the direction of more stimulus instead of less.

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