Business briefs: After an early slide, US stocks end mostly higher

U.S. stocks

bounce back after slide

After several days surfing Wall Street's gut-wrenching swells and troughs, investors got a mostly smoother ride on Thursday.

The stock market took an early plunge but recovered nearly all of the ground it lost as the day went on. By the closing bell most indexes were showing modest gains.

Despite the relatively calm day, many market pros say investors haven't seen the last of the market's big moves.

Traders are still fretting that global growth will slow and that Europe could slip into another recession, hurting corporate profits. Then there are the many geopolitical uncertainties, from conflicts in Syria and Iraq and uncertainty over the impact of the outbreak of the Ebola virus.

On Thursday, investors drew some encouragement from new data on the labor market and the latest batch of corporate earnings. Energy stocks surged as oil prices bounced back, notching only their fourth daily gain in a month.

Insurance Time to celebrate anniversary

BRADENTON -- Insurance Time of Bradenton will host an open house to celebrate its 35 years in business.

The open house will take place at the downtown Bradenton location from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to unveil the new addition and remodel of its office building. The Bill Rice band will entertain about 400 guests.

Average 30-year rate drops to 3.97 percent

WASHINGTON -- Average U.S. mortgage rates tumbled this week. The 30-year loan hit its lowest level since June 2013 as Treasury bond yields marked new lows amid concern over global economic weakness.

It was the fourth straight week of declines for mortgage rates, making it more affordable to borrow to buy a home.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday that the nationwide average for a 30-year loan dipped to 3.97 percent from 4.12 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, fell to 3.18 percent from 3.30 percent.

Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year note traded at 2.13 percent Wednesday, down from 2.34 percent a week earlier.

Jobless aid applications fall to 14-year low

WASHINGTON -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid dropped to the lowest level in 14 years last week, the latest sign of a strengthening labor market that could help blunt worries about the impact of weak global growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000, the lowest level since April 2000. Given that the U.S. population has grown considerably since then, the proportion of the U.S. workforce applying for benefits is even smaller. Applications are a proxy for layoffs.

-- Herald staff, wire reports