Wrigley says it is taking a new caffeinated gum off the market temporarily as the Food and Drug Administration investigates the safety of added caffeine. The company said this week that it has stopped new sales and marketing of Alert Energy Caffeine Gum “out of respect” for the agency, which said it would investigate the health effects of added caffeine in foods just as Wrigley rolled out Alert late last month. A stick of the gum is equivalent to half a cup of coffee.
Mortgage rates tick up
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage edged up to 3.42 percent from 3.35 percent last week. That’s still near the average of 3.31 percent reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971. The average on the 15-year fixed-rate loan rose to 2.61 percent from 2.56 percent last week, which was the lowest on records going back to 1991.
Wholesale stockpiles rise
Wholesale businesses stepped up their restocking of supplies in March, but their sales fell sharply. The Commerce Department said Thursday that stockpiles held by wholesalers rose 0.4 percent in March compared with February, when they had fallen 0.3 percent. Sales in March dropped 1.6 percent, the biggest setback since March 2009, when the country was in recession. Sales had risen 1.5 percent in February.
Claims for jobless benefits at five-year low
The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, a five-year low. Layoffs have returned to pre-recession levels, a trend that could lead to more hiring. The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average dropped 6,250 to 336,750. That’s the fewest since November 2007, one month before the Great Recession began. Weekly applications have fallen about 9 percent since November and are now at a level consistent with a healthy economy. The last time weekly applications were lower was in January 2008, when they were 321,000.