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Stocks tumble...Consumer confidence takes a hit...Mortgage rates down

December 27, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are down sharply, unable to build on the prior day’s strong performance, as Wall Street stumbles toward what could be its steepest annual loss since the financial crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped about 360 points in early afternoon trading Thursday after dropping as much as 528 points earlier. Technology companies and health care stocks took some of the heaviest losses. Energy stocks also fell as the price of U.S. crude oil slid 2.9 percent a day after posting its biggest increase in two years.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer confidence tumbled this month as Americans began to worry that economic growth will moderate next year. But consumer spirits are still high by historic standards. The Conference Board, a business research group, said Thursday that its consumer confidence index fell to 128.1 in December, down from 136.4 in November and lowest since July. The index measures consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and their outlook for the next six months. Both fell in December. Consumers’ expectations for the future dropped to the lowest level since November 2016.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, offering a slight degree of relief to would-be homebuyers after the stock market has tumbled. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 4.55 percent from to 4.62 percent last week. Rates averaged 3.99 percent a year ago. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate loans dropped to 4.01 percent from 4.07 percent. Still, that average is above its 3.44 percent level a year ago.

GEOJEDO, South Korea (AP) — The boom in U.S. fossil-fuel production has been matched by a rush on the other side of the Pacific to build the tankers needed to help supply the seemingly unquenchable thirst for energy among Asia’s top economies. When Congress lifted restrictions on shipping crude oil overseas in 2015, even the most boosterish of Texas oil men wouldn’t have predicted the U.S. could become one of the world’s biggest fossil-fuel exporters so quickly. Climate experts say there is little doubt increased American production and exports are contributing to the recent rise in carbon emissions.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican’s criminal tribunal has convicted an Italian builder of using his accounts in the Vatican bank to launder money, and sentenced him to 2½ years in prison. The Vatican press office said the Dec. 17 decision, announced Thursday, marked the first time the Vatican court had handed down a money-laundering verdict since the city state criminalized the offense in 2010 as part of its financial reform efforts. Italian police had placed Angelo Proietti under house arrest in 2016.