Ticker: Long-term mortgage rates hit new lows; Casino mogul, GOP megadonor Adelson to take medical leave

U.S. long-term mortgage rates declined this week to new record lows for the first week of 2021.

The year opens against the continuing backdrop of damage from the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. and global economies, which suppressed home loan rates through most of 2020.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan slipped to 2.65% from 2.67% from last week. The rate stood at 3.64% a year ago.

Mortgage rates are set to rise modestly this year as economic factors shift, according to Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater.

Casino mogul, GOP megadonor Adelson to take medical leave

Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson will take a medical leave after recently resuming cancer treatments, the company announced in a statement on Thursday.

Adelson’s leave of absence will be effective immediately, the company said. President and COO Robert G. Goldstein will take the post of acting CEO and chairman.

Adelson first announced that he was being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 2019.

The company owns the Venetian and Palazzo hotel and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

Adelson is a Republican megadonor who recently gave $75 million to a super PAC that attacked President-elect Joe Biden  ahead of last November’s election.

Service sector expands

The U.S. services sector, where most Americans work, grew for the seventh consecutive month in December even as coronavirus cases surged through the holidays.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Thursday that its index of services activity grew slightly to a reading of 57.2 last month, from a reading of 55.9 in November. Readings above 50 represent expansion in services industries such as restaurants and bars, retail stores and delivery companies.

Out of the 18 service sector categories, 14 reported growth, including management and support services, wholesale and retail trade, healthcare, and transportation. Reporting contraction were arts, entertainment and recreation, accommodation and food services and real estate rental and leasing.



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