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GM’s offer to UAW would add lower-paying positions

DETROIT | A General Motors offer to invest $7 billion in U.S. facilities includes $2 billion from joint ventures and suppliers for new plants that would pay workers less than the top union wage, a person briefed on the matter said.

The offer is a major issue that could get in the way of a deal between the United Auto Workers and the company to end a nationwide strike, now in its fourth day. About 49,000 UAW workers have been on picket lines since Monday in a contract dispute about wages, health care costs, profit sharing, job security and other issues.

The $2 billion investment from entities other than GM is important because those factories would not be run as typical GM plants.

Although workers at those facilities would be represented by the UAW, they would be paid far less than the full UAW wage of about $30 per hour, said the person, who requested anonymity because details of contract talks are confidential. The union wants to add jobs that pay the top UAW wage.

Home sales rose 1.3% in August

WASHINGTON | U.S. home sales rose 1.3% in August to the highest level in 17 months, as mortgage rates near historic lows have spurred a rush of home-buying.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.49 million units, the best performance since March 2018. Sales have increased 2.6% from a year ago.

The recent bump in home sales are a sign of U.S. consumers’ resilience despite a darkening outlook for growth. Cheaper borrowing costs have improved affordability for buyers, making them more eager to buy despite rising prices amid a shortage of properties for sale.

Average 30-year mortgage rate jumps to 3.73%

WASHINGTON | U.S. long-term mortgage rates shot up this week, yet they stayed close to the historic lows that appear to be helping the real estate market.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.73% from 3.56% last week. The rate averaged 4.65% a year ago, when the higher government debt from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts enabled borrowing costs to rise.

But as the economic outlook has become less certain, the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates and borrowing costs have tumbled in ways that are generally aiding homebuyers.

The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans climbed to 3.21% from 3.09% last week.

— From AP reports