More McDonald’s to allow customized burger orders

McDonald’s plans to expand a test this year that lets people order customized burgers.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain began testing the waters of personalized orders last year with a “build-your-own burger” concept at a location in California.

“It’ll be more than five, less than a hundred,” said Kevin Newell, U.S. brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s, when asked how many restaurants would be testing the menu. But he said the additional locations will also be in California.

The chain also is rolling out new prep tables in the kitchens of its more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants. The tables are built to accommodate more toppings and dressings than McDonald’s now offers.

Best Buy reports a profit, even though revenue fell

Best Buy returned to a profit in the fourth quarter and topped Wall Street expectations as it cut costs to offset declining sales.

The specialty electronics retailer says it gained market share during the quarter.

Best Buy has been dealing with increased competition from online stores, notably Amazon.com, and discounters like Walmart. Under CEO Hubert Joly, the company has tried to turn around results by revamping merchandise, training employees and cutting costs.

That hasn’t been enough to reverse a sales decline. Revenue in stores open at least 14 months, a key retail metric, fell 1.2 percent in the U.S. during the quarter, which includes the key holiday season.

Jobless aid applications increase, but trend stable

The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits rose 14,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, though the broader trend in applications remained stable.

The four-week average was unchanged at 338,250, the Labor Department said Thursday. The average is not far above pre-recession levels, a sign companies are laying off few workers.

Harsh winter weather has chilled hiring in recent months.

On the positive side, the unemployment rate fell in January to a five-year low of 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent, as more of those out of work found jobs.

Average U.S. fixed rates on mortgages rise again

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose for a third straight week as new data showed a surprisingly strong pace of new-home sales last month. Rates still remain near historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 4.37 percent from 4.33 percent last week.

The average for the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.39 percent from 3.35 percent.

– From news service reports