BlackBerry maker’s stock plunges on earnings report

Shares of Research In Motion plummeted more than 16 percent after hours after the BlackBerry maker reported its net income and revenue declined in its fiscal second quarter.

The company continues to struggle to compete with the iPhone and smartphones running Google’s Android system.

RIM said Thursday that its net income was $419 million, or 80 cents per share, in the three months that ended Aug. 27. That’s down from $796.7 million, or $1.46 per share, a year ago. Analysts expected 90 cents per share, according to a poll by FactSet.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said revenue fell 15 percent to $4.2 billion.

A new week, a new low for fixed mortgage rates

Fixed mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in six decades for the second straight week. But few Americans can take advantage.

Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.09 percent this week, down from 4.12 percent. That’s the lowest rate since 1951.

The average rate on a 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing option, fell to 3.30 percent from 3.33 percent. Economists say it is likely the lowest rate ever on the 15-year loan.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Worries over Europe’s debt crisis are pushing investors to shift money into safe Treasurys, forcing the yield lower.

Big Three carmakers, UAW still talking after deadline

Negotiations between General Motors, Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union continued Thursday even though bargainers missed a key deadline to agree on a new contract.

The union, which represents 111,000 workers at Detroit’s carmakers, agreed to keep working under the old GM and Chrysler contracts, which expired Wednesday.

GM appeared close to a deal. Its talks with the union resumed Thursday morning and continued into the afternoon.

Chrysler Group LLC’s negotiations were strained, however. Just before Wednesday’s contract expiration, CEO Sergio Marchionne wrote an angry letter to the UAW president saying that he failed to show up to finalize a deal.

Talks also continued with Ford Motor Co., but little progress has been made. The UAW has extended its contract with Ford indefinitely.

Former SEC chief opposes plan to restructure agency

As House Republicans showcased plans Thursday to restructure and tighten the reins on the Securities and Exchange Commission, they ran into opposition from a former high-ranking Republican appointee: Harvey L. Pitt, who led the SEC during the administration of George W. Bush.

The proposed restructuring would be “too restrictive” and “would likely cause certain critical SEC functions to lose independence,” Pitt said in written testimony for a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

Meanwhile, a bill that would call on the SEC to consider a variety of additional factors before issuing regulations is “imprudent,” “seems far too cumbersome” and would impose “onerous standards,” Pitt said.

Longtime friends charged in $2.6 million stock fraud

A federal prosecutor in New York said two longtime friends went on an insider trading binge, making more than $2.6 million in illegal profits on pharmaceutical stocks before they were arrested Thursday.

Scott Allen, 45, of Atlanta and John Bennett, 48, of Norwalk, Conn., surrendered to face securities fraud charges. Allen had worked at Mercer, a global human resources consulting firm. Bennett was an independent film producer and former investment professional, authorities said.