Home Depot Supply sale uncertain as deadline looms

ATLANTA - Talks over restructuring a $10.3 billion deal to sell The Home Depot Inc.'s wholesale distribution business went down to the wire Thursday, the expected closing date for the agreement.

The Atlanta-based retailer has hinted the deal could fall through. Or Home Depot may have to lower the price.

A spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the deal will be completed. Investors were edgy, sending Home Depot shares down 75 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $34.02.

Rates on 30-year mortgages sink to lowest point since late May

WASHINGTON - Rates on 30-year mortgages sank this week to their lowest point since late May, providing a little ray of sunlight for would-be home buyers.

Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.52 percent. That was down from 6.62 percent last week and was the lowest rate since the week ending May 31, when rates stood at 6.42 percent.

The moderation provides a dose of welcome news for prospective homebuyers, some of whom also may be facing a situation of harder-to-get credit. In mid-June, rates on 30-year mortgages climbed to 6.74 percent, the high for this year.

Fewer people sign up for jobless claims, good sign for labor market

WASHINGTON - Fewer people signed up for jobless benefits last week, an encouraging sign that most businesses aren't resorting to big layoffs amid a housing slump and the painful credit crunch.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications filed for unemployment insurance dipped by 2,000 to 322,000 for the week ending Aug. 18. It marked the first drop in new claims in roughly a month.

The showing was a bit higher than the 320,000 analysts were forecasting. Still, the level of claims suggested that the employment climate remains in fairly good shape despite problems in housing, tighter credit and turmoil on Wall Street in recent weeks.