Gas prices in Maine now lowest in nearly two years

Gas prices in Maine have fallen to their lowest point in nearly two years.

Price-monitoring website MaineGasPrices.com reports in its weekly price survey Monday that the average retail price of gas in Maine fell about 3 cents a gallon over the past week, to $3.38.

But prices in Maine are still 18 cents above the national average.

The Maine price is based on a survey of more than 1,200 gas stations.

Fewer U.S. homeowners fall behind on mortgages

Fewer U.S. homeowners are falling behind on their mortgage payments, aided by rising home values, low interest rates and stable job gains.

The trend brought down the national late-payment rate on home loans in the third quarter to a five-year low, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday.

The percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell in the July-September quarter to 4.09 percent from a revised 5.33 percent a year earlier, according to the firm, whose data go back to 1992.

The latest rate also declined from 4.32 percent in the second quarter.

The last time the mortgage delinquency rate was lower was the third quarter of 2008.

Apple developing designs for enhanced iPhones

Apple is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, said a person familiar with the plans.

Two models planned for release in the second half of next year would feature larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges, said the person, declining to be identified because the details aren’t public. Sensors that can distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen may be incorporated into subsequent models, the person said.

With screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, the two new models would be Apple’s largest iPhones, the person said, and would approach in size the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 that Samsung Electronics Co. debuted in September. The South Korean maker last month released its curved-screen Galaxy Round, the latest phone in an array of sizes and price points that’s helping keep Samsung ahead of Apple in global market share.

The new Apple handsets are still in development and plans haven’t been completed, the person said, adding that the company probably would release them in the third quarter of next year.

Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment.

U.S. and European Union free trade deal snagged

The United States and the European Union sought Monday to get past a rough patch in diplomatic relations to resume talks on a free trade deal that would grow what is already the world’s biggest business relationship.

Negotiators for the Obama administration and the EU say an agreement would create jobs and boost growth in the two economies, which represent almost half of global output but are still not fully recovered from recession.

The negotiations, however, are taking place against the backdrop of European pique over reported U.S. electronic espionage of EU citizens, including high-profile leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel.

– From news service reports