Postal Service adds some Sunday delivery for holidays

The U.S. Postal Service will deliver packages on Sundays in major cities and high volume areas during the holiday season.

Seven-day delivery will run from Nov. 17 through Christmas Day in response to anticipated growing demands.

The agency expects 12 percent growth in its package business this holiday season, or in the range of about 450 to 470 million packages.

Initial unemployment claims drop to new low

Initial unemployment claims fell last week, dropping the average over the previous month to its lowest level in 14 years, the Labor Department said Thursday.

About 278,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits, down 10,000 from the previous week. The decline was larger than economists had forecast.

The figure remained above the post-Great Recession low of 266,000, reached in the week ended Oct. 11. But the four-week average fell by 2,250 to 279,000 last week, the lowest since April 2000, the Labor Department said.

The decline was a positive sign ahead of Friday’s Labor Department report on October job growth and unemployment.

U.S. workers’ productivity increased at slower pace

U.S. workers’ productivity increased in the July-September period at a slower pace than in the previous quarter while labor costs accelerated but still remained at an extremely low level.

The Labor Department says productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, rose at a 2 percent annual rate in the third quarter after a 2.9 percent gain in the second quarter. Labor costs rose at a slight 0.3 percent rate in the third quarter after having fallen at a 0.5 percent rate in the second quarter.

Average 30-year mortgage rate exceeding 4 percent

Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan crawling back over 4 percent. It was the second straight week of increases in rates after they had fallen for five weeks amid concern over global economic weakness.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage increased to 4.02 percent from 3.98 percent last week. Still, at 4.02 percent the rate remains at its lowest level since June 2013. The 30-year rate stood at 4.53 percent back in January.

The average for a 15-year mortgage,jumped to 3.21 percent from 3.13 percent.

U.S. brings its 1st bitcoin securities fraud case

A New York prosecutor says the federal government has brought its first bitcoin securities fraud case, accusing a Texas man of engineering a bitcoin Ponzi scheme.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the arrest Thursday of 32-year-old Trendon Shavers of McKinney. Shavers made an initial court appearance in Texas on charges of securities fraud and wire fraud. He was released on bail.