Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.38 percent. That's down from 3.40 percent last week. It hit 3.31 percent in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 2.66 percent. The record low is 2.63 percent.

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Lessons learned, BofA makes a new mortgage push

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Bank of America wants a bigger slice of the mortgage market. This time, the bank is being more careful about how to get it.

On Thursday the bank sketched out plans for regaining some of the ground it lost in home lending. That's a change from the strategy of the last few years, when it concentrated on shedding parts of its mortgage business.

Under the new approach the bank is targeting people who are already customers. It also wants to focus on making loans directly to borrowers, rather than buying mortgages from other lenders.

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Legal expenses drag down Citigroup 4Q earnings

Citigroup's fourth quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street's expectations as the bank's legal expenses rose and it released less money from its loan-loss reserves.

The bank, based in New York, said a big chunk of the legal expenses came from a settlement reached last week over illegal foreclosure practices in the aftermath of the housing bust.

It was Citigroup's first quarter under the leadership of CEO Michael Corbat, who took the helm after former CEO Vikram Pandit resigned abruptly in October.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose to 84.79 points higher at 13,596.02. The Nasdaq composite climbed 18.46 points to 3,136. The S&P 500 gained 8.31 points to close at 1,480.94.

Benchmark oil gained $1.25 to finish at $95.49 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose $1.42 to end at $111.10 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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