Index: Midwest economy expands despite tariff concerns

OMAHA, Neb. | The economy expanded in nine Midwestern and Plains states last month despite mounting concerns about tariffs and trade skirmishes, according to a report released Thursday.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index slumped to 54.9 in October, from 57.5 in September , the report said. The October reading was the lowest since January 2017, but it also was the 23rd month in a row that the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0.

The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Google employees leave work to protest treatment

of women

SAN FRANCISCO | Carrying signs that included a mocking use of the company’s original “Don’t be evil” motto, thousands of Google employees around the world briefly walked off the job Thursday to protest what they said was the tech giant’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against executives.

From Tokyo, Singapore and London to New York, Seattle and San Francisco, highly paid engineers and other workers staged walkouts of about an hour, reflecting rising #MeToo-era frustration among women over frat-house behavior and other misconduct in heavily male Silicon Valley.

The protests unfolded a week after The New York Times detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about the creator of Google’s Android software, Andy Rubin. The newspaper said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the accusations were credible. Rubin has denied the allegations.

Average 30-year mortgage rates ease to 4.83%

WASHINGTON | Long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week, in a quiet pause after weeks of market anxiety over rising interest rates.

Home borrowing rates still remain at their highest levels in more than seven years, dampening the outlook for prospective homebuyers. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages eased to an average 4.83 percent this week from 4.86 percent last week. A year ago, it stood at 3.94 percent.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans slipped to 4.23 percent this week from 4.29 percent last week.

— From AP reports