Boeing’s 737

Boeing Co. is speeding up production of its 737 again as it aims to cut down a backlog for 3,400 of the jets.

The 737 is popular with short-haul airlines such as Southwest. Boeing cranks out 38 per month now at its plant in Renton, Wash. It’s aiming to speed up to 42 a month in the first half of 2014. Its new announcement says it will go to 47 per month in 2017.

That’s right around the time it will begin producing the 737 Max, a new version. Airbus is also boosting production of its competing A320, and is building a new assembly plant for that plane in Mobile, Ala.

Boein also is increasing its production of the 787, which it makes in North Charleston and Everett, Wash., to 16 a month by 2020 from about 10 now.

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a sign that employers are laying off very few workers.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average rose 8,000 to 356,250, the highest since April. The 16-day partial government shutdown and backlogs in California due to computer upgrades inflated the average. Still, a government spokesman said those unusual factors did not affect last week’s first-time applications.

DALLAS — Exxon Mobil Corp.’s quarterly profit fell 18 percent from last year, but the oil and gas giant still made nearly $8 billion in three months.

Production increased slightly, but Exxon made significantly less money at refining.

Exxon, the biggest U.S. oil and gas company, said Thursday its third-quarter net income was $7.87 billion. Revenue dipped 2 percent to $112.37 billion.

It was Exxon’s second-smallest quarterly profit since mid-2010. Still, the results exceeded expectations

HAMPSTEAD, Md. — Jos. A. Bank says it will consider boosting its $2.3 billion buyout bid for Men’s Wearhouse, but that it will drop its offer in two weeks if there continues to be no discussions on the proposal.

Jos. A. Bank made an unsolicited offer of $48 a share in September. Earlier this month Men’s Wearhouse rejected the bid, calling it “opportunistic” and “inadequate.”

On Thursday, Jos. A. Bank said it would consider raising its offer if allowed to assess whether an increased bid is justified.

The company said the Men’s Wearhouse board has refused to talk and said it will terminate its proposal if “good faith discussions” aren’t held by Nov. 14.

NEW YORK — Fans of McDonald’s coffee will soon be able to brew a cup of it at home.

The hamburger chain says it will test selling a variety of packaged ground and whole-bean coffee at supermarkets and other retail outlets starting next year. The test will also include single-cup servings.

McDonald’s didn’t disclose any other details. But the company already started selling McCafe packaged coffee in Canada late last year. Those bags weighed about 12 ounces and cost about $7.

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell for the second straight week and are at their lowest levels in four months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year loan declined to 4.10 percent from 4.13 percent. The average on the 15-year fixed loan eased to 3.20 percent.

Staff and wire reports