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story.lead_photo.caption This Jan. 25, 2010, file photo, shows a General Motors Co. logo during a news conference in Detroit. General Motors on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, is recalling more than a million big pickup trucks and SUVs in the U.S. because of power-assisted steering problems that have been cited in a number of accidents. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Long-term mortgage rates jump in August

WASHINGTON -- Long-term U.S. mortgage rates this week jumped to their highest level since the start of August, raising costs for would-be home buyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 4.60 percent from 4.54 percent last week. The average rate has surged from 3.78 percent a year ago, posting the largest annual gain since May 2014.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans rose to 4.06 percent this week from 3.99 percent last week.

Solid job growth has boosted demand from would-be home buyers. But rising prices, a shortage of sales listings and higher rates have been a drag on sales.

-- The Associated Press

GM recalls vehicles for steering glitch

DETROIT -- General Motors is recalling 1.2 million big pickups and SUVs mainly in North America because of power steering problems that have been cited in a number of accidents.

GM says the power steering can fail momentarily during a voltage drop and suddenly return, mainly during low-speed turns. Such a failure increases the risk of a crash. The company says it has 30 reports of crashes with two injuries, but no deaths.

The recall covers certain 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups as well as Chevy Tahoe and Suburban SUVs. Also affected are 2015 Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon SUVs.

Dealers will update the power steering software at no cost to owners. No date has been set to notify customers, but GM says the software is available now, so owners can contact dealers to schedule repairs.

More than 1 million of the trucks are in the U.S., and most of the rest are in Canada and Mexico. There's a small number in other countries.

-- The Associated Press

Turkey raises key rate in currency crisis

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's central bank on Thursday raised its key interest rate sharply, from 17.75 percent to 24 percent, to contain inflation and stem the currency crisis that has been destabilizing the country this summer.

The bank's move is long overdue, many independent economists say, and suggests it is re-asserting its independence after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly and publicly pushed it to keep rates low.

The Turkish lira began to recover shortly after the rate increase, strengthening by 3.4 percent to 6.18 against the dollar.

The currency has plunged in recent months and even after Thursday's rise was down almost 39 percent against the dollar this year. Investors are mainly concerned about Erdogan's economic policies and an ongoing diplomatic and trade dispute with the United States over the detention of an American pastor on espionage and terror-related charges. Washington imposed sanctions on two government ministers and doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey.

Turkey's woes are also part of wider jitters in developing countries as investors pull their money out of the fast-growing -- but often fragile -- emerging economies to return it to safer markets like the U.S.

-- The Associated Press

Mississippi site added to cleanup list

GRENADA, Miss. -- Federal officials are putting a north Mississippi industrial site on the national Superfund list for cleanup.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it is adding the Rockwell International Wheel & Trim site in Grenada to the list, making it eligible for long-term cleanup money.

The designation includes a 40-acre parcel, as well as other sites where contaminants may have been disposed. The agency said adding the site will let it move ahead with a comprehensive cleanup of all the contamination at the site and in adjoining areas.

Ohio-based Ice Industries has operated part of the complex as Grenada Stamping since 2005. It was used from 1966 to the early 2000s to make wheel covers and plate them with chrome.

The industrial solvent trichloroethene was used there. It has been found on-site, in an adjacent neighborhood, in a creek and at a dump site. Residents of the Eastern Heights neighborhood have long complained about contamination.

-- The Associated Press

Climate activists note drop in emissions

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thousands of mayors, climate activists and business leaders from around the world descended Thursday on San Francisco to cheer on efforts to reduce global warming, even after President Donald Trump signaled his disdain for the issue.

The Global Climate Action Summit, sponsored by California Gov. Jerry Brown, included a report that 27 major cities around the world have seen emissions decrease over a five-year period and are now at least 10 percent lower than their peak.

The cities include Berlin, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and San Francisco. Together the cities have about 54 million people.

The report came from C40 Cities Climate Leadership, a group whose board is headed by philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

-- The Associated Press

VW sets end of road for stalwart Beetle

DETROIT -- After selling it on and off in the U.S. for nearly seven decades, Volkswagen has decided to squash its iconic Beetle.

The company's American unit announced Thursday that it would end global production of the third-generation bulbous bug in July next year after offering two special editions for sale.

The compact Beetle was introduced in Germany in 1938 during the Nazi era and 11 years later came to the U.S., where it became a symbol of utilitarian transportation often used by hippies. The car sold for about 30 years before U.S. sales stopped in 1979. The last of the original bugs was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in 2003.

Volkswagen revived it in the U.S. in 1998 as a more modern "New Beetle," but it attracted mainly female buyers. The company revamped it for the 2012 model year in an effort to make it appeal to men, giving it a flatter roof, less bulbous shape, a bigger trunk and a navigation system. U.S. sales rose fivefold to nearly 29,000 in the first year, but tailed off after that. Last year VW sold only 8,627, according to Autodata Corp.

The special editions, which come in coupe and convertible body styles, get unique beige and blue colors in addition to the normal hues. They also get standard extra chrome, new wheels and three-color ambient lighting inside.

Volkswagen has no immediate plans to revive the Beetle again, but the company wouldn't rule it out.

"I would say 'never say never,'" VW of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said in a statement.

The company plans to roll out an electric version of the old Volkwagen Bus in 2022 called the I.D. Buzz.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 09/14/2018

Print Headline: Business news in brief

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