Facebook offers faster app for iPhone, iPad

Facebook Inc. addressed users who had gripes with its app for iPhones and iPads with the launch of a faster version. Rather than add a slew of new features, the company said it rebuilt the application from scratch to make it speedier and less clunky. In a demonstration at the company's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, the new iPhone app opened about twice as fast as the older version. Photos and comments also load faster. Users can now "like" comments on photos, which wasn't possible with the previous mobile app.

U.S. new home sales up more than expected

Purchases of new homes rose more than projected in July to match a two-year high, a sign the industry that helped trigger the recession is recovering. Sales climbed 3.6 percent to a 372,000 annual pace, following a 359,000 rate in June that was higher than previously estimated, figures from the Commerce Department showed. Last month's rate was the same as in May, which was the strongest since April 2010. The median forecast of 72 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a rise to 365,000.

Initial jobless claims ticked up last week

Applications for U.S. jobless benefits rose slightly last week, the government reported, suggesting little change in the nation's underperforming labor market. Initial claims increased by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000 in the week ended Saturday, the Labor Department said. That's the highest level in five weeks. The average of new claims over the past month, a less volatile measure, climbed 3,750 to 368,000. Claims have shown virtually no improvement after falling to a four-year low in February.

Mortgage rates climb again but remain low

U.S. mortgage rates climbed for a fourth week, increasing borrowing costs as prospective homebuyers come off the sidelines. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.66 percent in the week ended Thursdday from 3.62 percent, Freddie Mac said. The average 15-year rate was 2.89 percent, up from 2.88 percent. The average rate for a 30-year loan reached a record-low 3.49 percent in the week ended July 26.