The Associated Press
Downside of low US mortgage rates? Less selling
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Would-be home sellers across the country are grappling with a once-in-a-lifetime problem: They have mortgage rates so absurdly low it would hurt them financially to sell.
Doing so would mean giving up an irresistible rate in exchange for a new mortgage carrying a rate up to a percentage point higher. Their monthly payments would be larger even for a house of the same price. That's discouraging some people from selling, thereby limiting the supply of available homes and contributing to slower home sales.
It's a significant shift from the way the U.S. housing market has worked for the past 30 years. For most of that time, whenever a homeowner decided to trade up to a better home, mortgage rates usually were lower than the last time they had bought. That helped make a new purchase seem more attractive.
Tobacco firms Reynolds, Lorillard in merger talks
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Big Tobacco may soon get smaller.
The makers of Camel and Newport cigarettes said Friday they are in talks to combine two of the nation's oldest and biggest tobacco companies. A deal between Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc. would create a formidable No. 2 to rival Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA. It also could spur a wave of consolidation in the tobacco business, shrink factories and workforces, and push prices for cigarettes higher even as smokers buy fewer of them.
The news follows months of speculation about the possible combination. In separate statements, the companies said no agreement has been reached and there's no guarantee one will be.
Amazon asks FAA for permission to fly drones
NEW YORK (AP) -- Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration permission to use drones as part of its plan to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.
The news sent shares of the nation's largest e-commerce company up nearly 6 percent on Friday.
The online retailer created a media frenzy in December when it outlined a plan on CBS' "60 Minutes" to deliver packages with self-guided aircrafts that seemed straight out of science fiction.
In a letter to the FAA dated Wednesday, Amazon said it is developing aerial vehicles as part of Amazon Prime Air. The aircraft can travel over 50 miles per hour and carry loads of up to 5 pounds. About 86 percent of Amazon's deliveries are 5 pounds or less, the company said.
World Cup defeat can hurt domestic stock market
LONDON (AP) -- Argentina and Germany face off in the World Cup final on Sunday and investors in both countries will do well to be alert to potential drops on their stock markets the day after in case of defeat.
With markets driven by sentiment as well as fundamental factors such as growth, dividend payments and inflation, a big sporting defeat can depress the mood of traders and cause the stock market to underperform.
Alex Edmans, a professor at London Business School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has assessed the impact of major sporting events on market behavior for years and his analysis of this World Cup has confirmed that defeats have generally resulted in declines the day after that are greater than, or counter, to the performance of the wider global market.
Inventor pushes solar panels for roads, highways
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren't meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots, bike trails and, eventually, highways.
Brusaw, an electrical engineer, says the hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity.
While the idea may sound outlandish to some, it has already garnered $850,000 in seed money from the federal government, raised more than $2 million on a crowd-funding website and received celebrity praise.
Solar Roadways is part of a larger movement that seeks to integrate renewable energy technology -- including wind, geothermal and hydropower -- seamlessly into society.
Stocks stabilize, but end down for the week
NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks stabilized on Friday and ended with a small gain, but it wasn't enough to prevent the market's biggest weekly drop since April.
Investors became more cautious this week as corporate earnings for the April-June period began trickling in. Worrisome news about a Portuguese bank also revived fears of another European debt crisis. That weighed on stocks, which had closed out the previous week at record highs.