Business Digest, Oct. 18

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Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013 12:00 am

Unemployment applications drop

Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 358,000 last week, although the figure was distorted for the second straight week by California’s efforts to clear backlogged claims.

Also, the partial government shutdown probably boosted the total, as government contractors and other businesses furloughed employees. The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week average rose 11,750 to 336,500.

S&P 500 closes at record high

The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed at record high Thursday as investors put the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis behind them and focused on corporate earnings.

The S&P 500 index rose 11.61points, or 0.7 percent, to close at a record 1,733.15. The Dow Jones industrial average, however, ended the day down about 2points, or 0.01 percent, to 15,371.65.

American Express and Verizon rose the most in the Dow, after reporting earnings that beat expectations from financial analysts. The index of 30 big U.S. companies was held back by declines in IBM, Goldman Sachs and UnitedHealth.

Mortgage rates up slightly

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose slightly this week, staying near three-month lows.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.28 percent from 4.23 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan edged up to 3.33 percent from 3.31 percent.

Fox executive to lead Hulu

Online video service Hulu named Fox executive Mike Hopkins as its new chief executive officer on Thursday, ending speculation over Hulu’s leadership after Jason Kilar’s departure in March.

Andy Forssell, the former content executive who has served as interim CEO, will leave the company.

Hopkins was president of distribution for Fox Networks Group, where he oversaw on-demand and digital offerings. Hopkins also served on the Hulu board for several years.

Hulu, based in Los Angeles, is owned by 21st Century Fox, the Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.

— From wire reports

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