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Home price index falls 0.3 percent in August

Washington (AP) — A government index shows U.S. home prices dipped slightly in August from the previous month, but remained above a low point reached in May.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, prices fell 0.3 percent in August from July. The agency’s index, based on loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is 3.6 percent below last year’s levels and 10.7 percent off its peak in April 2007.

The index declined less than other housing market measurements during the housing bust because it excludes the most expensive homes and some of the risky loans that have fallen into foreclosure.

Rates on 30-year loans inch up to 5 percent

Washington (AP) — Rates for 30-year home loans have inched up, hitting 5 percent for the first time in nearly a month after bond yields edged up.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 5 percent this week, up from 4.92 percent a week earlier, according to mortgage company Freddie Mac. It was the highest average since the week of Sept. 24, when rates averaged 5.04 percent.

While higher than the record low of 4.78 percent hit in the spring, rates are still attractive for people looking to buy a home or refinance.

Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day, often in line with long-term Treasury bonds.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.43 percent, from 4.37 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.4 percent, up from 4.38 percent a week earlier.

Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.54 percent from 4.6 percent.

Navy’s newest warships top out at more than 50 mph

Math, ME (AP) — The Navy’s need for speed is being answered by a pair of warships that have reached freeway speeds during testing at sea.

Independence, a 418-foot warship built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., boasts a top speed in excess of 45 knots, or about 52 mph, and sustained 44 knots for four hours during builder trials that wrapped up this month off the Gulf Coast. The 378-foot Freedom, a ship built by Lockheed Martin Corp. in Marinette, Wis., has put up similar numbers.

Both ships use powerful diesel engines, as well as gas turbines for extra speed. They use steerable water jets instead of propellers and rudders and have shallower drafts than conventional warships, letting them zoom close to shore.

The ships, better able to chase down pirates, have been fast-tracked because the Navy wants vessels that can operate in coastal waters.

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