Mortgage rates creep up from record low last week

Record-low mortgage rates failed to pull the housing market out of its funk. Now rates are inching higher, but don’t blame them if home sales stay sluggish.

On Thursday, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate for a 30-year fixed loan was 4.35 percent, the first weekly rise since mid-June. That’s up from 4.32 percent the previous week, the lowest number since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.

Rates have been falling since spring as investors have shifted money into safe Treasury bonds. That influx of money has lowered Treasury yields, which mortgage rates tend to track.

But just as bargain financing couldn’t save the housing market, analysts say, a gradual rise in rates won’t necessarily crush it. Cheap money matters less than the larger forces at work, especially a 9.6 percent unemployment rate, which keeps would-be homebuyers in fear of losing their next paycheck.

Former railroad executive named CEO of Burger King

Burger King’s soon-to-be new owners have named a former Latin American railroad executive to be CEO of the fast-food chain after the $3.26 billion deal goes through.

The appointment of Bernardo Hees by 3G Capital is a signal that the investment firm is serious about expanding the Burger King brand further into Latin America and elsewhere abroad. Hees will replace John Chidsey, who had been CEO since 2006. Chidsey will become co-chairman after the deal closes.

Hees was most recently CEO of America Latina Logistica, Latin America’s largest railroad company, in which 3G Capital owns a stake of about 6 percent.

3M agrees to buy Arizant, its third recent acquisition

Manufacturing conglomerate 3M Co. has agreed to pay $810 million for Arizant Inc., a company that makes heating devices for surgical patients.

It’s one of a string of recent acquisitions for 3M as it stretches beyond its traditional business of Post-It Notes and Scotch Tape.

Last month, 3M agreed to buy Attenti Holdings SA, an Israeli company that makes ankle bracelets used to keep track of people, for $230 million. It also announced it would put up $943 million for Cogent Inc., which provides equipment that reads finger and palm prints.

Cold drinks fuel rise in sales for McDonald’s

August’s summer heat provided a lift for fast-food giant McDonald’s, pushing a key revenue figure up 4.6 percent in the U.S. during the month as customers came in for frappes and fruit smoothies.

But the results weren’t as strong as analysts were expecting, largely on weakness in Europe.

The world’s largest hamburger chain said that August sales at restaurants open at least 13 months climbed 4.9 percent. While the performance was strong and beat growth of 2.2 percent from in August 2009, it is down from July’s 5.7 percent rise — the biggest monthly increase since a 6.1 percent gain in April 2009.

Ford cancels plan to shift production to Kentucky

Ford has canceled plans to move production of a small sport-utility vehicle from Europe to Kentucky as currency exchange rates no longer favor domestic production, according to two people familiar with the decision.

Ford had planned to shift the Kuga model next year to Louisville from Saarlouis, Germany, to take advantage of lower labor costs and the weaker dollar, they said. With the euro falling, Ford plans to continue producing the Kuga in Germany, the people said.

The reversal demonstrates how hard it is for Ford to lower U.S. labor costs to globally competitive levels.