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    An 'Open House' sign is displayed in the front yard of a home for sale in Columbus, Ohio.Ty Wright | Bloomberg | Getty Images Mortgage interest rates have increased in four of the first six weeks of 2021, putting a chill on mortgage demand. Overall mortgage application volume fell 4.1% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index. The move down came as the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances of up to $548,250 increased to 2.96% from 2.92%, for loans with a 20% down payment. The rate was 76 basis points higher a year ago. Refinance demand, which is most sensitive to weekly rate fluctuations, fell 4% for the week but were 46% higher than a year ago. That annual comparison had been over 100% at the start of this year but has been shrinking....
    ACC Roundup: Hokies Go Huge Should moms get paid for being moms? Some think so — and theres a new plan to provide a $2,400 monthly stipend. Stocks open lower after weekly jobless claims rise to three-month high © Marketwatch MARKET PULSE U.S. stocks faltered at Thursday's open as the latest economic data showed the labor market's momentum may have stalled amid the resurgence of COVID-19 towards the end of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6% to 29,887. The S&P 500 slipped 0.7% to 3,645. The Nasdaq Composite was down 1% to 12,219. Weekly initial jobless claims rose to a three-month high of 853,000 in early December, from 716,000. Later, an FDA committee will meet on Thursday morning to weigh the risks and benefits of Pfizer and BioNTech's experimental vaccine.
    Coronavirus hospitalizations in the US have reached the highest level in three months — threatening to overwhelm the nation’s health care system amid a surge in new infections. At least 52,000 people suffering from COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals across the country Wednesday — the most since early August, according to the COVID Tracking Project. A total of fourteen states have now reported record-high hospitalization numbers, with Texas, Illinois and California seeing the most hospital check-ins, the data shows. The South, as a region, had the most COVID-19 patients in hospital beds — roughly 40 percent of the total 52,000. Nationally, the number of hospitalized patients has increased by more than 64 percent since Oct. 1, threatening to flood the health care system in some states. North Dakota, for example, had only six free intensive care unit beds available Wednesday. By contrast, the nation’s peak number of hospitalizations for...
    Colorado marijuana sales have topped $1 billion since the pandemic began, according to figures released this week by the state Department of Revenue. Legal marijuana sales topped $200 million in August for the second month in a row. Counting back to March of this year, when Colorado and the rest of the nation began shutting down over the pandemic, dispensaries have sold over $1.1 billion in marijuana products — and that's not counting sales in September and October, or back in February and January. And that's with prices at a three-year high. Readers had plenty to say about this record-breaking run in their Facebook comments on our story. Says Felicia: Good to see unemployment checks so well used. Adds Ed: No money to pay rent but plenty to purchase pot. Counters Josh: Is this the '50s? The MJ industry supports thousands of jobs...
    Colorado has seen over $1.1 billion in marijuana sales since the COVID-19 pandemic began in this country, according to figures from the state Department of Revenue. Legal marijuana sales topped $200 million in August for the second month in a row, reaching the second-highest monthly total since recreational sales started in 2014. Counting back to March of this year, when Colorado and the rest of the nation began shutting down over the pandemic, dispensaries have sold over $1.1 billion in marijuana products — and that's not counting sales in September and October. Dispensaries sold over $218.6 million worth of marijuana products in August, DOR data shows. Recreational sales accounted for more than $176.5 million (also the second-highest monthly total since 2014), while medical marijuana sales remained strong at just over $42 million.Related Stories Marijuana Sales Smash Previous Monthly Record, Cross $200 Million Colorado Pot Prices Reach Three-Year High, Up...
    Last month, the Denver Film Festival announced that its 43rd edition would unspool virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, there are a trio of exceptions. During the October 22 to November 8 event, DFF will screen three high-profile flicks using a drive-in format at Red Rocks that was pioneered over the summer for the 2020 Film on the Rocks program. The flicks include Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, the Winston Duke-Zazie Beetz vehicle Nine Days, and Ammonite, a period romance headlined by Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Denver Film Festival director Britta Erickson says the idea of including in-person screenings as part of this year's offerings was cemented by the success of the Film on the Rocks experiment. "There's no beating the environment of Red Rocks and the way we had such a huge screen up there with our LED system," she allows. "They were pretty evenings."Related Stories...
    MOSCOW (Reuters) - The mayor of Moscow urged businesses on Friday to get more people to work from home as Russia's daily tally of new coronavirus cases hit its highest since June 23. Officials reported 7,212 new infections, bringing the national case total to 1,136,048. In Moscow, the tally of new cases rose almost 50% overnight to 1,560 from 1,050 the previous day. Russia lifted many of its lockdown restrictions in June and many shops, businesses and public transport in the capital of more than 12.5 million people are operating largely as normal. But on Friday Mayor Sergei Sobyanin recommended that the heads of all companies in the city switch as many of their staff as possible to working from home from Monday. TsUM, Moscow's flagship luxury goods department store, was fined 1 million roubles ($13,000) for failing to make its visitors wear masks, the city's coronavirus taskforce said. It...
    Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York City The MTA is ending its temporary For Hire Vehicle (FHV) program, leaving New Yorkers without an option for overnight public transportation. The program will end effective Aug. 30 at 5 a.m. The MTA cited high costs and the fiscal crisis for ceasing operations. “At the height of the pandemic, it was critically important to ensure essential workers who were subway-dependent could get to overnight shifts reliably, and without spending considerably more time on their commute than they were used to,” said Sarah Feinberg, New York City Transit Interim President. “We are proud of how quickly and efficiently we were able to stand up a program of this magnitude. Given our significant financial challenges, we are unfortunately no longer able to provide this service to the limited number of people it was...
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported another 2,264 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the largest increase in confirmed cases in nearly three months and the third time the state has topped 2,000 daily cases in the last week. The state health department also announced another 25 people have died from the virus, raising Illinois’ death toll from the pandemic to 7,721 people. The most confirmed cases reported in Illinois in a single day was 4,014 on May 12. Friday’s cases were determined from 49,541 tests, raising the state’s positivity rate over the last week to 4.1% from 4.0%. In a press release, the health department blamed the uptick in the number of virus cases on local elected officials of communities “where there is little public concern for consequences or enforcement” of social distancing and isolation orders. Officials say 14 of the state’s...
    London (CNN Business)Anticipation that OPEC and allied countries will extend record production cuts through July is sending oil prices higher, though the outlook for the second half of the year remains uncertain.Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, rose above $42 per barrel for the first time since early March on Friday. Prices have gained more than 18% this week. West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, increased to more than $39 per barrel.OPEC will meet on Saturday to discuss extending output cuts by one month, two OPEC sources confirmed to CNN Business.Members of OPEC and their allies, including Russia and Mexico, already pledged to cut output by 9.7 million barrels a day in May and June, helping to prop up oil prices as demand for crude begins to recover.But Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil markets at Rystad Energy, notes that oil producers are still managing a tough balancing act, preventing them...
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