Stocks rise…Mortgage rates dip…Artificial intelligence creates Google Doodle
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are moving broadly higher in morning trading on Wall Street as technology stocks offset declines in the banking sector. Apple rose 2.8 percent as it continues to announce new products. Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants soared 6.4 percent after reporting earnings that were far better than analysts were expecting. Biogen, a major biotechnology company, took a 29 percent nosedive after stopping a trial for an Alzheimer’s drug. Other health care stocks also fell. JPMorgan led a decline in banks with a loss of 1.8 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-term mortgage rates have fallen this week, giving an incentive to potential buyers as the spring home-buying season opens. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declined to 4.28 percent from 4.31 percent last week. The average rate this week for 15-year, fixed-rate loans slipped to 3.71 percent from 3.76 percent. Mortgage rates have fallen substantially since the beginning of the year, after climbing for much of 2018 and peaking at nearly 5 percent in early November.
BRUSSELS (AP) – The Bank of England says firms have ratcheted up preparations for a “no-deal” Brexit over the past couple of months. The minutes of the bank’s latest policy meeting show that a special survey indicates that around 80 percent of companies “judged themselves ready” for a disorderly Brexit in which the country crashes out of the European Union with no deal and with no transition to new trading arrangements with the EU. That’s up from around 50 percent in an equivalent survey conducted in January.
HOUSTON (AP) – Authorities say it appears that the suppressive foam firefighters are using at a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility is separating at times and allowing dangerous benzene vapors to escape before another layer of foam can be applied. The Harris County fire marshal says crews are applying layer after layer of foam where several storage tanks burned at the Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park, southeast of Houston. They’re trying to prevent another flare-up of the fire that was extinguished yesterday.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) – Google is celebrating composer Johann Sebastian Bach with its first artificial intelligence-powered Doodle. Today’s animated Google Doodle shows the composer playing an organ in celebration of his March 21, 1685, birthday under the old Julian calendar. It encourages users to compose their own two-measure melody. To develop today’s Doodle, Google teams created a machine-learning model that was trained on 306 of Bach’s chorale harmonizations.