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BUSINESS TODAY

MORTGAGE RATES HIT 2-YEAR HIGH: The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages soared to 8.15 percent this week, reaching its highest rate in more than two years. The average was up from 7.89 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company. Rates have climbed since falling to 6.74 percent at the end of January.

INDICATORS POINT TO GROWTH: Retail sales accelerated in July and the number of workers seeking jobless benefits fell to a decade low, suggesting more growth is likely for the economy in the months ahead, government reports showed. Sales rose 0.7 percent last month to $248.7-billion, paced by increased demand for autos, pickup trucks and building supplies, Commerce Department figures showed. In addition, the four-week average of the number of U.S. workers filing state unemployment claims fell to 288,250 last week, its lowest level since February 1989, the Labor Department said. That highlights concerns that Federal Reserve policy-makers may raise interest rates to ward off inflation.

DILLER NETWORK LANDS NBA GAMES: Barry Diller's USA Networks Inc. said its second experiment in local broadcast TV will be in Dallas. The network, which has been converting its 13 TV stations from Home Shopping Network to local programming, signed a deal to air Dallas Mavericks NBA games on KHSX-Ch. 49 in Irving, Texas.

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