A Week's Worth

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Minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting indicating that the end is "likely" near in hiking interest rates helped to boost the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 1.9 percent last week to the highest close since it reached 11,722.98 on Jan. 14, 2000 (the record).

Considering all the possibilities, where do consumers most often use plastic when making purchases? According to VISA USA, it's at gas stations. Of 1,100 people surveyed by the company, 71 percent said they whip out a credit or debit card to pay at the pump, where a fillup now would eat deeply into a week's cash budget. Restaurants came in a distant second.

Is anyone buying a house these days? Sure, but the obstacles are becoming steeper. Not only are asking prices high, but mortgage loan costs are rising also. For the week ending April 14, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.56 percent nationally (excluding fees). That's the highest it has been since June 7, 2002, when it was 6.65 percent. Adjustable-rate loans averaged 6.0 percent. The index of mortgage applications fell last week by almost 2 percent, the Mortgage Bankers Association says.

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Stop right now, a leading counseling service advises, if you value your career but are doing any of the following on the job: misusing your computer, second-guessing the boss in public; bucking company culture in your arrival and departure times; discussing the company with the media unless that's what you were hired to do. In today's business environment, the Five O'Clock Club says, such behavior almost certainly will not go unnoticed.

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