published Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Business Briefs: Cigna profit, shares decline

Staff and Wire Reports

Cigna profit, shares decline

Cigna Corp. posted a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast 2012 earnings below Wall Street’s target, sending shares down nearly 3.4 percent Thursday.

The health insurance giant, which employs more than 1,500 workers at its Chattanooga claims processing center, said its fourth-quarter net income fell to $290 million, or $1.04 per share, from $461 million or $1.69 per share a year earlier.

Excluding special items, Cigna’s earnings of $1.11 per share missed the analysts’ average estimate by 8 cents, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.

Rate on 30-year mortgage falls

WASHINGTON — The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell this week to a record low, the ninth time that has happened in the last year. Even with the cheapest rates in history, the housing market remains depressed.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.87 percent this week. That is below the previous record of 3.88 hit two weeks ago.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.14 percent, also a record low. Records for mortgage rates date back to the 1950s.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which fell below 1.9 percent this week.

Rates have been low for more than a year, and the average rate on the 30-year loan has hovered near 4 percent for more than three months. Yet few people can afford to buy a home or qualify for a loan. Those who can have already done so.

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