Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, August 12, 1999

30-year mortgages rise to 2-year high

WASHINGTON -- The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages soared to 8.15 percent this week, reaching its highest level in more than two years.

The average was up from 7.89 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released today by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company. This week's average rate on 30-year mortgages was the highest since early April 1997.

Fifteen-year mortgages averaged 7.70 percent this week, up from 7.45 percent last week.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 6.24 percent, up from 6.09 percent.

Korean Air leases 2 new Boeing jets

SEOUL -- Korean Air received two new 777-300 passenger jets from Boeing Co. worth $260 million, part of a plan by South Korea's largest airline to lease 22 new aircraft within two years to refurbish its aging fleet.

The Seoul-based airline is seeking to improve its shoddy safety record, which includes the crash in August 1997 of a KAL 747 in Guam that killed 227.

The two new Boeing jets, with a seating capacity of 376 passengers each, will fly routes to Sydney and Honolulu starting Monday.

American Air, pilots resume negotiating

FORT WORTH, Texas -- American Airlines and the leaders of its pilots union will return to the bargaining table early next week to try to settle an issue that led to a pilots' sickout earlier this year.

The two sides have been arguing for months over how American should absorb lower-paid pilots from Reno Air, which American's parent bought in December.

Kmart posts rise in operating profit

DETROIT -- Kmart Corp., the nation's third-largest retailer, said its operating profits jumped 44 percent in the second quarter, thanks to stronger sales at its discount department stores.

Kmart reported profits of $134 million, or 26 cents a share, excluding a one-time charge of $230 million related to the bankruptcy of Builders Square. In the second-quarter last year, Kmart had profits of $93 million, or 19 cents a share, excluding non-recurring charges.

Sales totaled $8.8 billion, up 8 percent.

Costco issuing new joint credit cards

SEATTLE -- Costco Cos., a leading wholesale warehouse club operator, will issue co-branded credit cards with American Express this fall.

Starting in November, qualified consumers can purchase an American Express card that will double as a Costco membership card, the companies announced yesterday.

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