• Chicago Business Owners More Pessimistic Than Optimistic

    Economic and job recovery will persist, and the slow pace of growth will be insufficient to make much progress in lowering Chicago’s high unemployment rate in the coming year, PNC Bank said in a new study. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 8, 2011, that small and midsize-business owners in Chicago are less optimistic about the economy and prospects of a recovery in the short term.

    After 23 percent of the 150 business owners surveyed in the spring said they were optimistic about their company’s prospects for the next six months, the most recent study found only 14 percent reported feeling optimistic. Conversely, the Tribune reported that 53 percent of participants interviewed between July 26 and Sept. 12 felt pessimistic about the local economy, compared with 39 percent in the spring.

    Furthermore, results also revealed that 38 percent of local business owners plan to raise their prices, and 92 percent of that group said they are doing so “to avoid a profit squeeze from higher costs,” according to the Tribune.

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  • In Volatile Housing Market, Fixed Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows

    The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to the lowest rate ever, 3.94 percent, the Associated Press reported on October 6, 2011. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan dropped to 3.26 percent, also a record. The AP also noted that mortgage rates could fall even further with the Federal Reserve’s plans to reshuffle its portfolio of securities to try and lower long-term rates.

    While the record low rates represent “an extraordinary opportunity to buy or refinance” for those who qualify, the AP cited high unemployment, scant wage gains and heavy debt loads as factors preventing many people from buying and why this year could be among the worst for sales of previously occupied homes in 14 years. Furthermore, homeowners with solid jobs and firm finances have already refinanced over the past year, which is why experts told the AP that rates would need to fall at least a full percentage point before it makes sense to refinance again.

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