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Business Highlights

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US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.39 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages ticked up from record lows last week. Cheaper mortgages are fueling a modest housing recovery that could help the broader economy.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.39 percent from 3.36 percent. The previous week's rate was the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage edged up to 2.70 percent, from last week's record low of 2.69 percent.

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US foreclosure filings hit 5-year low in September

U.S. foreclosure filings dropped to a five-year low in September as fewer homes were on track to be seized by lenders.

It was the second-consecutive monthly decline in filings, although there remains a sharp divergence along state lines, according to a report Thursday by foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.

On a national level, overall foreclosure filings last month â¿¿ including home repossessions â¿¿ fell 7 percent from August and 16 percent from September 2011. There were 180,427 foreclosure filings reported for September, the fewest since July 2007 in the midst of the housing market bust.

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Mailing a letter to cost a penny more next year

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ It'll cost another penny to mail a letter next year.

The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service said Thursday that it will raise postage rates on Jan. 27, including a 1-cent increase in the cost of first-class mail to 46 cents.

It also will introduce a new global forever stamp, allowing customers to mail letters anywhere in the world for one set price of $1.10.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 18.58 points at 13,326.39. The S&P 500 inched up 0.28 point to 1,432.84. The Nasdaq fell 2.37 points to 3,049.41.

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