U.S. 30-year mortgage climbs higher to 4.48%

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages crept higher this week but remained low by historical standards. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.48 percent from 4.47 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.52 percent from 3.51 percent.

Mortgage rates peaked at 4.6 percent in August on expectations that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month in bond purchases. Those purchases push mortgage and other long-term rates lower and encourage borrowing and spending. On Dec. 18, the Fed finally decided the economy was strong enough to allow it to reduce the monthly purchases by $10 billion.

McDonald's closes help website for employees

McDonald's is shutting down a website intended to provide employees with work and life guidance after it generated negative publicity.

Media and labor groups, such as the "Low Pay is Not Okay" campaign that helped organize strikes by fast-food workers, have criticized the McResource program for creating unrealistic budgets and offering advice that was out of touch with its workers' pay. Last week, CNBC reported that the website, which is run by an outside company, discouraged eating fast food as part of its tips for healthy living.

McDonald's said Thursday that irrelevant or outdated information and content taken out of context from the website generated "unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary."

Delta will honor cheap airfares posted in error

Some lucky fliers capitalized on a computer glitch Thursday and scored some really cheap flights on Delta Air Lines.

From about 10 a.m. to noon ET, some Delta fares on the airline's own website and other airfare booking sites were showing up incorrectly, offering some savvy bargain hunters an incredible deal. A roundtrip flight between Cincinnati and Minneapolis for February was being sold for just $25.05. The correct price is more than $400.

A spokesman for the airline, said the problem has been fixed but "Delta will honor any fares purchased at the incorrect price." New regulations, aimed at truth in advertising, require airlines to honor any mistake fares offered.

Empire State investors shortchanged, suit says

A lawsuit says thousands of stakeholders in the Empire State Building lost more than $400 million combined when the managing owners rebuffed potential buyers in order to sell public shares in the iconic skyscraper.

The suit was filed this week. It seeks class-action status for the owners of about 2,800 shares in the building. They were sold privately in 1961.

Operating owners Peter Malkin and his son Anthony spearheaded a public offering plan that combined the skyscraper with 11 other buildings. The suit says the Malkins spurned more lucrative private offers for the Empire State Building alone because the public offering was more profitable for them, but not for the other stakeholders.

Their Empire State Realty Trust says the claims are "wholly without merit."

Assets held in money market funds increase

Total U.S. money market mutual fund assets rose $22.09 billion to $2.697 trillion for the week that ended Monday, according to the Investment Company Institute.

Assets in retail money market mutual funds rose $1.27 billion to $926.93 billion, the mutual fund trade group said Thursday. Assets of taxable money market funds in the retail category rose $450 million to $731.63 billion. Tax-exempt retail fund assets rose $810 million to $195.3 billion.

Wire reports