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Briggs & Stratton expanding

in Missouri

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. | Briggs & Stratton will expand its manufacturing plant in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and add 130 new jobs over the next year, while at the same time closing a plant in Kentucky.

The company, which makes small gasoline engines used in lawn mowers, announced Thursday that it will consolidate operations in the Missouri plant and shut down the facility in Murray, Kentucky, by the fall of 2020.

Briggs & Stratton said in a news release that the market for small vertical-shaft engines has been stable over the last several years but has not grown, prompting the need to consolidate operations.

The state of Missouri provided $175,000 in incentives through the Missouri One Start program, aimed at helping recruit workers and train new and existing employees.

Industrial output fell

0.2% in July

WASHINGTON | U.S. industrial production fell 0.2% in July, as factory activity slumped in a worrisome sign for the economy.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that the overall decline was caused primarily by a 0.4% drop last month in manufacturing production. Output decreased for autos, fabricated metals, wood products, textiles and plastics and rubber products.

Over the past 12 months, factory production has fallen 0.5%. Manufacturers’ struggles reflect a global softening in growth that has been magnified by U.S. government’s use of tariffs to escalate a trade war with China. The risks have been great enough that the financial markets on Wednesday flashed signs of a possible recession.

Average 30-year mortgage rate steady at 3.60%

WASHINGTON | U.S. long-term mortgage rates remained near historically low levels this week against a backdrop of volatile financial markets around the globe.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the benchmark 30-year loan was unchanged at 3.60%, its lowest level since November 2016. A year ago the rate stood at 4.53%.

The average mortgage rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans edged up to 3.07% from 3.05% last week.

— From AP reports