Stock rally fades; no immediate Fed help
NEW YORK ó Investors didnít hear what they wanted from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
An early rally in stocks faded in the afternoon Thursday after Bernanke signaled no immediate further steps from the Fed to stoke U.S. economic growth, which has shown signs of faltering.
A report that Americans cut back sharply on credit card purchases in April, suggesting consumers were losing confidence, also took some steam out of the market.
The Dow Jones industrial average had been up as much as 140 but closed up 46.17, or 0.3 percent, at 12,460.96. The S&P 500 ended down 0.14 at 1,314.99. The Nasdaq index finished down 13.70 at 2,831.02.
Virgin Mobileís iPhone will cost $30 per month
NEW YORK ó Virgin Mobile USA, one of Sprintís brands for prepaid, no-contract phone service, said Thursday that it will start selling the iPhone on June 29, charging $549 for a basic model. The high price comes with an upside: service will start at $30 a month.
That means the phone, plus two years of service, will cost $1,269, excluding taxes. Thatís nearly $800 less than a subscriber would pay for the same phone, an iPhone 4 with 8 gigabytes of memory, if buying it under the Sprint Nextel brand.
Aid requests by jobless fall, first time in weeks
WASHINGTON ó The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time in five weeks. But the drop suggests only modest job growth after three months of weak hiring.
The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for weekly benefits dropped by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000. Thatís down from an upwardly revised 389,000 the previous week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 1,750 to 377,500, the highest level in a month.
U.S. 30-year mortgage hits record-low 3.67%
WASHINGTON ó Average U.S. rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages this week fell to record lows for the sixth straight week.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.67 percent. Thatís down sharply from 3.75 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing option, declined to 2.94 percent, down from 2.97 percent.
Best Buy founder quits board, exploring sale
NEW YORK ó Richard Schulze. the founder and outgoing chairman of Best Buy, announced his resignation from the board Thursday and said he may sell off his 20.1 percent stake in the beleaguered electronics retailer.
Itís the latest news to hit the company facing increasing competition from online retailers and a CEO scandal, and it removes one obstacle for a possible private equity takeover of the company.
Spain pressed to save its ailing bank industry
MADRID ó Spain is under increasing pressure to find a quick way to save its troubled banking sector from collapse. Politicians and investors around Europe are worried that the battered country will not find the money to cover the bad property loans weighing its banks down. The expectation now is that Spainís government will have no choice but to seek an international bailout to help bolster its lenders.
Spain, previously rated A by credit-rating agencies, may need up to $126 billion to bolster its banking system.