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Mortgage rates drop for third week in a row

Rates for 30-year home loans dropped for the third-straight week, inching toward a record low reached earlier this year, Freddie Mac said yesterday. The average rate for 30-year fixed mortgages was 5.14 percent this week, down from 5.2 percent last week. Last year at this time, the rate for a 30-year mortgage averaged 6.26 percent, Freddie Mac said.

Funding plight sends CIT shares into free-fall

CIT Group Inc. shares fell more than 70 percent yesterday as its inability to get emergency government funding raised expectations that the commercial lender would file for bankruptcy protection. It is unclear how a bankruptcy filing by a company that lends to thousands of small and midsize businesses would affect shaky financial markets. Small businesses are seen as keys to economic recovery.

Pirates trainer receives '09 team physician award

Allegheny General Hospital sports medicine specialist Edward Snell has received the 2009 Team Physician Award from the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society. Dr. Snell is head team physician for the Pittsburgh Pirates and medical director for Duquesne University's athletic training education program.

Earnings

Harley-Davidson Inc. said yesterday that it was cutting another 1,000 employees as it posted a steep decline in its second-quarter profit. Heavyweight motorcycle-maker Harley said profit fell 91 percent to $19.8 million, or 8 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 28. That was down from $222.8 million, or 95 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

IBM Corp. yesterday increased its full-year profit forecast to $9.70 per share from $9.20 per share. The upgrade was a rare sign of confidence from a major corporation this year. IBM said it believed that it could continue to profit from its services and software divisions even while sales suffer. The company reported a second-quarter profit of $3.1 billion, or $2.32 per share. That was up 12 percent over last year's quarter and ahead of analysts' projections for $2.02 per share.

Google said it earned $1.48 billion, or $4.66 per share, during the three months ended in June. That compares with income of $1.25 billion, or $3.92 per share, for the same period last year. Revenue rose 3 percent to $5.52 billion. Until this year, Google had never experienced single-digit sales growth. If not for stock compensation expenses, Google said it would have made $5.36 per share. That topped the average analyst estimate of $5.09 per share.

Also in business ...

The Sears Tower, the tallest building in the United States, was renamed The Willis Tower yesterday. London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings secured the naming rights as part of its agreement to lease 140,000 square feet of space in the building. ... Apple Inc. has shut down a feature of Palm Inc.'s rival Pre smart phone, crippling the phone's ability to act like an iPod. Pre users had been able to put music on it by using Apple's iTunes software, but Apple updated iTunes on Wednesday to block this feature. ... Mylan Inc. said it received government approval to market liothyronine sodium tablets, the generic version of King Pharmaceuticals' thyroid deficiency drug Cytomel. Shipments have begun, Mylan said.



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