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Business Highlights

But revenue from stores open at least a year â¿¿ a performance measure for a food company â¿¿ rose 4.9 percent during its fourth quarter. Kroger said total sales in the quarter increased 7.7 percent to $21.4 billion from a year ago. Excluding results from its fuel stations, which are subject to volatility and not considered part of the company's core business, sales increased 5 percent over the same period last year.

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Average rate on 30-year mortgage down to 3.90 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The average rate on the 30-year mortgage edged down this week to hover again above record lows. Cheaper rates have spurred modest improvements in the battered housing market, but not enough to signal a recovery.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year home loan fell to 3.90 percent from 3.95 percent the previous week. That's slightly above the 3.87 percent average rate hit two weeks ago, which was the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.17 percent from 3.19 percent a week ago. It hit a record 3.14 percent four weeks ago.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average added 28 points to close at 12,980.30. The S&P 500 index rose 8.41 points to 1,374.09, its highest closing level since June 5, 2008. The Nasdaq composite index rose 22.08 points to 2,988.97.

The price of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil used as a benchmark, rose $1.77 to end at $108.84 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is imported by many U.S. refiners to make gasoline, rose $3.54 to finish at $126.20 a barrel in London.

Natural gas futures fell nearly 6 percent Thursday to end at $2.46 per thousand cubic feet. Heating oil rose 7 cents to finish at $3.28 a gallon.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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