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DOW SLIDES

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 7.32 points Thursday at 3,824.42.

TREASURY YIELDS RISE. Interest rates on 52-week Treasury bills rose in Thursday's auction to the highest level in nearly two years. The average discount rate was 4.03 percent, up from 3.59 percent at the last auction a month ago. The bills will carry an equivalent coupon interest rate of 4.22 percent. Sales totaled $16.52-billion out of bids of $43.98-billion.

MORTGAGE RATES HIGHER. Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 7.51 percent this week, up from 7.32 percent last week, according to a national survey released Thursday by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. On one-year adjustable rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 4.48 percent, up from 4.25 percent last week. Fifteen-year mortgages averaged 7.01 percent this week, up from 6.80 percent a week earlier. The rates do not include add-on fees known as points.

Nation

"Rent-to-own' plans

costly, group says

The "rent-to-own" industry, which leases merchandise ranging from diamond pinkie rings to refrigerators, charges interest rates that average 111 percent a year but refuses to disclose it, a consumer group contended Thursday.

"The rent-to-own industry should change its name to "ripping them off,' " said Bill Wood of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. He released a survey of 125 rent-to-own stores in 20 states, including Florida, to buttress his attack.

The report contended that rent-to-own stores charge annual interest rates ranging from 35 percent to 396 percent. The national average bank credit card interest rate is about 17 percent, while retail stores charge between 21 percent and 23 percent on their charge cards, PIRG found.

Bill Keese, executive director of the Association for Progressive Rental Organizations, said that's a false comparison. He said rent-to-own stores charge rent, not interest, and the average lease is for three to four months.

Tampa Bay/State

SHIP HAS OCTOBER DEBUT. The newest cruise ship of the Holland America Line, the ms Ryndam, will be introduced in Tampa in October. About 15,000 guests, including 10,000 travel agents, will get a look at the ship in a series of lunches, overnights and two-night cruises from Tampa and Fort Lauderdale beginning Oct. 5. Tourism officials in Tampa said the fall event marks the first time the city has hosted inaugural festivities for a cruise line. The Ryndam will be based at Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale. Holland America sails the ms Nieuw Amsterdam from Tampa.

Best Mortgage Rate

The best 30-year fixed mortgage rate in the Tampa Bay area as reported Thursday was 7.500 percent with 0 points offered by Action Mortgage (813) 725-8888, and C & C Financial (813) 287-2878. The rate is based on a $100,000 purchase with a 5 to 10 percent down payment. For additional mortgage rate information, see the complete list of rates offered by area institutions in Saturday's Home & Garden section. The information is supplied by National Financial News Services in West Chester, Pa.

DOW DOLLAR YIELD

30 industrials vs. Japanese yen 30-year U.S. bond

3824.42 103.80 6.83

-7.32 -0.35 +0.06

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