Business Briefs: Economy rate grew in recent quarter

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Economy saw better rate in most recent quarter

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.7 percent annual rate from July through September, the Commerce Department said Thursday. It was more than twice the 1.3 percent rate reported for the April-June quarter. GDP measures the nation's total output of goods and services -- from restaurant meals and haircuts to airplanes, appliances and highways. Most economists say economic growth is slowing to below 2 percent in the current October-December quarter.

Hostess secures future of Twinkies in court

The future of Twinkies is virtually assured. Hostess Brands Inc. got final approval for its wind-down plans in bankruptcy court Thursday, setting the stage for its iconic snack cakes to find a second life with new owners. Hostess also received approval to give its top executives bonuses totaling up to $1.8 million. The company says the incentive pay is needed to retain the 19 corporate officers and "high-level managers" during the wind down process, which could take about a year. An attorney for Hostess noted that the company is no longer able to pay retiree benefits.

Jobless applications fall from Sandy-induced spike

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 393,000 last week, the Labor Department reported. Applications had spiked to 451,000 three weeks ago after Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 405,250 last week.

Home contracts took healthy leap in October

An index measuring the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in October jumped to nearly its highest level in almost six years. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 5.2 percent to 104.8 in October. Excluding a few months when the index spiked because of a homebuyer tax credit, that is the highest level since March 2007.

Mortgage rates hover near record lows

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages stayed close to record lows this week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan edged up to 3.32 percent. That's close to last week's rate of 3.31 percent, the lowest on records dating to 1971. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage ticked up to 2.64 percent from 2.63 percent last week, also a record low.

Also in business ...

Mylan Inc. said it received regulatory approval for the generic version of Pharmacia and Upjohn's Detrol tablets used to treat symptoms of an overactive bladder. ... Cargo ships were stacking up Thursday in Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors as a strike by clerical workers who are members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union shut down most of the terminals at the nation's busiest port. ... JPMorgan Chase & Co. doesn't have to turn over portions of e-mails sought by U.S. regulators in a probe of potential energy-market manipulation because of attorney-client privilege, a U.S. magistrate judge ruled.

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