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Economy Briefs: Rate on 30-year mortgage falls to record 3.66 percent

BANKING

The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell this week to a record low for the seventh time in eight weeks. Cheap mortgages have helped drive a modest recovery in the weak housing market this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.66 percent. That’s down from 3.71 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The average rate on the 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing option, declined to 2.95 percent. That’s down from 2.98 percent last week and just above the record 2.94 percent reached two weeks ago.

ENERGY

Oil dips below $80 a barrel, lowest in nearly 9 months

The price of oil hit its lowest level in almost nine months Thursday - $78.20 a barrel. That’s down almost 30 percent from a peak in February. It could keep falling if the U.S. and world economies continue to sputter.

Cheaper oil means cheaper gasoline. And on Thursday, the national average for gasoline dropped to $3.472 per gallon. That’s 17 cents cheaper than a year ago and down 46 cents from its peak in early April. Experts say gasoline could fall to $3.30 per gallon by the Fourth of July.

TECHNOLOGY

Twitter site down briefly on Thursday afternoon

NEW YORK — Twitter users were unable to access the micro-blogging service for about an hour on Thursday.

Twitter said on its status blog that its engineers were investigating the issue. About an hour later, it said the issue had been resolved. The short messaging service was working again by early afternoon. The company declined to say how widespread the outage was or what caused it.

Outages were once a relatively common occurrence for Twitter, but that was several years ago when it was new and trying to manage growth. It was shut down at least twice in August 2009, once for several hours, when hackers hobbled the site in a “denial of service” attack.

EUROPE

Spanish banks need up to $78 billion bailout

MADRID — Spain’s troubled banks could need as much as $78.76 billion in new capital to withstand future economic shocks, independent auditors have calculated.

Presenting the results of the auditors’ reports into the country’s struggling financial sector, Deputy Bank of Spain Governor Fernando Restoy noted that this worst-case scenario was far below the $127.04 billion loan lifeline offered by the 17 countries that use the euro.

HOUSING

May home sales down 1.5 percent from April

Americans bought fewer homes in May than April, suggesting a sluggish job market could threaten a modest recovery in housing.

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