Average U.S. rate on 30-year mortgage falls

Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell for the sixth straight week as markets around the globe continued the whipsaw trading that has marked this year so far. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 3.65 percent this week, down from 3.72 percent last week and close to its low point last year of 3.59 percent. The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 2.95 percent from 3.01 percent last week. Mortgage rates have continued to fall despite the Federal Reserve's decision in December to raise the short-term rate it controls for the first time since 2006.

Fewer in U.S. apply for jobless benefits

Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week in a sign of a stable job market despite the slowing global economy hitting stocks and commodities. Weekly applications for jobless aid fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, declined slightly to 281,250. The number of people receiving benefits has declined 4.6 percent to 2.2 million from a year ago. The weekly jobless claims figure has remained beneath a key threshold of 300,000 for almost a full year, a level that usually corresponds with net monthly job gains of 200,000 or more. Still, the pace of hiring slowed in January as employers added 151,000 jobs, down from robust gains of 262,000 in December and 280,000 in November.

Morgan Stanley to pay $3.2B in settlement

Morgan Stanley will pay $3.2 billion to strike a settlement with state and federal authorities over the Wall Street firm's creation of mortgage-backed bonds before the financial crisis. Nearly a year ago, Morgan Stanley announced that it expected to pay $2.6 billion in the settlement. Since then, though, Morgan Stanley was pushed to offer more money, with much of the additional money going to New York state. The settlement is one of the last that is expected to come out of a working group that President Obama helped form in 2012 to deal with the flawed mortgaged-backed bonds that banks put together before the financial crisis.

Time Inc. buys Myspace for ad targeting

Myspace still exists? It does, and the company that owns the once-ubiquitous social network is being bought by Time Inc. to help the magazine publisher target ads. The parent company, Viant, says it can give marketers access to more than 1.2 billion users. Myspace peaked in 2008 with some 76 million U.S. visitors before losing ground to Facebook. News Corp. sold the company to Justin Timberlake and other investors in 2011 for $35 million. Today, it is an entertainment-focused site that plays music videos and songs. Time Inc. will not say what it paid. The publisher of People, Sports Illustrated and Time was spun off from entertainment company Time Warner in 2014.

Microsoft rolls out dog-identifying tool

Microsoft's latest trick: analyzing a photo to identify the dog breed of your canine companion. The tool, released on Thursday, lives at what-dog.net and comes as a Web app or download for devices running Apple's iOS. It's the latest in Microsoft's campaign to advertise the potential of machine-learning research being done by a Microsoft Research group in Cambridge, England, and other engineers and researchers at the Seattle-area company. Previous Internet-friendly efforts include apps that tried to peg your age, reviewed mustaches and evaluated whether two people looked like twins.

Boeing shares fall after report of SEC probe

Shares of the Boeing Co. plummeted Thursday after a report said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the aircraft manufacturer's accounting. Shares of the Chicago-based company fell more than 10 percent after Bloomberg News published the morning report. Boeing's stock finished the session down $7.92, nearly 7 percent, at 108.44.