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Average U.S. Rate on 30-Year Mortgage Eases to 4%

The Gilmer Free Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates eased this week after hitting their highest levels this year in the previous week.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4% this week from 4.04% a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages slipped to 3.23% from 3.25%.

Mortgage rates have been surging in recent weeks amid signs of improvement in the economy.

Last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve took note of the economic strength and appeared ready to raise interest rates this year for the first time in nearly a decade, in the belief that the economy no longer needs the stimulus of near-zero rates.

The economic improvement and stronger employment picture has bolstered the housing market. In a recent indication, the government reported that although U.S. builders broke ground on fewer homes in May, the pace of construction remains significantly higher than a year ago.

The recent increase in mortgage rates has come during the height of the spring home buying season. Still, mortgage rates remain low by historic standards. A year ago, the average 30-year rate was 4.17% and the 15-year was 3.30%.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1% of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage rose to 0.7 point from 0.6 point last week. The fee for a 15-year loan fell to 0.5 point from 0.6 point.

The average rate on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages slipped to 3% from 3.01 percent; the fee was unchanged at 0.4 point. The average rate on one-year ARMs was steady at 2.53 percent; the fee remained at 0.2 point.

Wall Street Rises on Greece Optimism, Nasdaq Ends at Record

The Gilmer Free Press

U.S. stocks ended higher on Monday, with the NASDAQ closing at a record as hopes grew that a deal would be reached to prevent Greece from defaulting on loans.

Equities have been largely driven by the situation in Greece of late, with investors concerned that if the country defaults on its loans, it may have to leave the euro or the European Union, potentially shaking the region’s economic foundations.

Athens presented new reform proposals which were cautiously welcomed by euro zone finance on Monday, though the Eurogroup said the proposals required detailed study and that it would take several days to determine whether they can lead to an agreement. Greece needs fresh funds to avoid defaulting on a $1.8 billion debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund on June 30.

Sentiment was also lifted by merger and acquisition activity. The S&P energy index .SPNY rose 1% as the top-performing sector of the day after Energy Transfer Equity LP (ETE.N) confirmed it had made a $48 billion unsolicited bid for Williams Companies Inc (WMB.N), hours after Williams rejected the offer as significantly too low.

Shares of Williams surged 26% to $60.90 and were the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 by far.

Separately, Cigna Corp (CI.N) rose 4.8% to $162.65 after the health insurer rebuffed Anthem’s (ANTM.N) $47 billion merger proposal on Sunday. Anthem rose 3.6% to $171.04.

Homebuilders rose as existing home sales grew more than expected in May, surging to their highest in five- and-a-half years. The PHLX Housing index .HGX rose 0.9% while Lennar Corp (LEN.N) added 1.7% to $49.49.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO.N) slumped 12.5% to $6.11 on heavy volume after Sequential Brands (SQBG.O) agreed to buy the company in a deal that values it at about $353 million, or $6.15 a share. Martha Stewart shares had risen about 37% over two days after news of the deal emerged.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 104.53 points, or 0.58%, to 18,120.48, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 13 points, or 0.62%, to 2,122.99 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 36.97 points, or 0.72%, to 5,153.97.

With the day’s gains, the NASDAQ ended at a record while the S&P closed 0.3% away from its own record close. Currently, the S&P trades at 17.3 times earnings, above its long-term average.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,830 to 1,238, for a 1.48-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the NASDAQ, 1,819 issues rose and 988 fell for a 1.84-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 51 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the NASDAQ Composite was recording 207 new highs and 26 new lows.

About 5.31 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, compared with the month-to-date average of 6.17 billion.

Teva Invests In Mylan in Continued Buyout Effort

The Gilmer Free Press

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL  – Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. made another move Friday toward a potential buyout of Mylan.

Teva purchased 4.61% Mylan’s outstanding shares.

The investment is enough to allow Teva to take the buyout proposal to Dutch officials for approval to continue.

Earlier this month, Teva increased ownership of Mylan from 1.8% to 2.2%.

A $40 billion dollar proposal was made to acquire the company with a manufacturing plant in Morgantown.

Meanwhile, Mylan announced this week that the company’s largest stakeholder, Abbott Laboratories, supports plans to purchase Irish drug maker Perrigo.

GRANTS AND FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES - 06.22.15

The Gilmer Free Press

Thomson Reuters/ASIS&T: Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award

The Thomson Reuters Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award recognizes the unique teaching contribution of an individual as a teacher of information science.

Maximum award: $1,000; $500 towards travel or other expenses to the grant recipient, contingent upon the recipient’s attending the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) annual meeting, and $250 to ASIS&T Headquarters towards administrative fees.

Eligibility: individuals directly engaged in teaching some aspect of information science on a continuing basis, in an academic or a non-academic setting.

Deadline: August 01, 2015.


Wild Ones: Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program

The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program gives small monetary grants to schools, nature centers, or other non-profit educational organizations for the purpose of establishing outdoor learning centers.

Funds will be provided only for the purchase of native plants and seed.

Maximum award: $500.

Eligibility: schools, nature centers, and other non-profit places of learning, including houses of worship.

Deadline: October 15, 2015.


Vernier/NSTA: Technology Awards

The Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards promote the innovative use of data-collection technology using a computer, graphing calculator, or other handheld device in the science classroom.

Maximum award: $1,000 in cash for the teacher, $3,000 in Vernier Products, and up to $1,500 toward expenses to attend the annual NSTA National Convention.

Eligibility: Current teachers of science in grades K-College.

Deadline: November 30, 2015.

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