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Retail and housing data lift stocks in rally

Strong retail sales and a healthy reading on the housing market helped stocks start December with a two-day winning streak. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 106 points Thursday. Combined with a 249-point gain Wednesday, the Dow has had its best two-day run since July 7-8. The Dow rose 106.63, or 1 percent, to close at 11,362.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 15.46, or 1.3 percent, to 1,221.53. The Nasdaq composite index rose 29.92, or 1.2 percent, to 2,579.35.


Mortgage rates rise third week in a row

After falling to jaw-dropping lows, home mortgage rates rose this week for the third week in a row, according to a new report Thursday. The 30-year, fixed rate rose to an average 4.46 percent, up from 4.40 percent a week ago, according to the weekly survey by mortgage giant Freddie Mac. That rate fell to a record low of 4.17 percent in early November. Rates on 15-year, fixed loans - a popular choice for refinancing - also rose, to an average of 3.81 percent, up from last week's average of 3.77 percent.


White House adviser wants simpler credit card pacts

Elizabeth Warren, the White House adviser in charge of setting up a consumer financial protection bureau, said the new agency should require greater simplicity in credit-card agreements instead of writing rules to ban abusive practices. In her most detailed comments yet on how the agency might regulate credit cards, Warren said the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 relied too much on a strategy of prohibition. She also said that mandating more disclosure doesn't necessarily render credit-card agreements more comprehensible to consumers.


Comtech subsidiary gets $1.1M Latin America order

An Arizona subsidiary of Melville-based Comtech Telecommunications Corp. has a new $1.1-million order to supply a Latin American customer with components for a satellite communications system. Comtech EF Data Corp. of Tempe, Ariz., did not provide details on the customer. The order includes satellite transceivers and amplifiers that will help the customer expand its network and add subscribers. - Joseph Mallia


Home sales rise in October; Northeast closings up 19%

The number of people who signed contracts to buy homes jumped in October, marking the third gain since contract signings hit a decade low. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose 10.4 percent in October. Signings were up 19.6 percent in the Northeast. Only the West saw a decline. With the October gain, contract signings are 18.3 percent above June's index - the lowest level since the private group began tracking signed contracts in 2001.

From staff and wire reports

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