A Week's Worth

Losing steam: The economy slowed last quarter as gross domestic product rose at a 3.1 percent annual rate. Analysts had expected 3.5 percent growth. But strong earnings reports helped markets post a slight weekly gain after three weeks of losses. Historically, a January downturn has led to an annual market decline two-thirds of the time.

Mortgage trend: Homebuyers will see interest rates climb by at least half a percentage point this year and a quarter point or more next year, says the Mortgage Bankers Association. It predicts 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages will reach 7 percent by the end of 2007.

Private aid: Nearly two in three American companies and organizations in a survey offered some sort of disaster relief to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunamis. The most popular option: matching employee contributions to relief efforts or organizing employee donations, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, which polled 338 of its members. Nearly two-thirds of the $947 million in aid raised in the United States has come from the private sector, Reuters estimates.

Do firms promote fairly? Nearly 4 in 10 companies report their minority employees have doubts about internal promotion policies, according to a survey of 1,780 human-resource executives. One possible reason: Half of the firms said their leadership development programs were less diverse than their overall workforce, according to Novations/J. Howard & Associates, a global consulting firm, which conducted the survey.

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