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October 18, 2013

Briefcase

Oil almost slips below $100 before worry reasserts itself

The price of oil nearly fell below $100 a barrel for the first time in more than three months Thursday as relief faded over a U.S. deal to avoid a default on its debts.

Benchmark crude for November delivery slid as low as $100.03 before recovering a bit to close with a loss of $1.62, or 1.6 percent, to $100.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil last traded below $100 a barrel on July 3.

Oil gained more than $1 a day earlier, driven by optimism over the eleventh-hour deal reached by leaders in Congress to reopen the government through Jan. 15 and increase the nation’s borrowing authority through Feb. 7. The rally lost momentum, however, as investors assessed the impact of the 16-day partial shutdown on the economy and worried that the deal only postpones the debt problem.

Air bag, power steering risks prompt Toyota recall in U.S.

Toyota is recalling 803,000 vehicles in the U.S. because their air bags or power steering could stop working.

The Camry and Camry hybrid, Avalon and Avalon hybrid and Venza from the 2012 and 2013 model years are affected.

Toyota says water from the air-conditioning condenser can leak onto the air bag control module and cause a short circuit. That could illuminate the air bag warning light, disable the air bag or cause the air bags to deploy inadvertently.

The power steering assist function could also become inoperable if the air bag control module is damaged.

Toyota knows of two minor injuries related to the defect. Owners will be notified starting next month. Toyota dealers will repair the problem for free.

Average U.S. mortgage rates rise slightly this week

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose slightly this week, staying near three-month lows. Rates could fall next week now that lawmakers reached a deal to avert a possible government debt default.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.28 percent from 4.23 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan edged up to 3.33 percent from 3.31 percent.

Forecasts prove low for new unemployment applications

More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as California continued to work through a backlog, indicating it will take time to gauge the impact of the federal shutdown.

Jobless claims decreased by 15,000 to 358,000 in the week ended Oct. 12 from a revised 373,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 46 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 335,000.

— From news service reports





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