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In brief

30-year fixed mortgage up

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage edged up this week as bond yields increased.

Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate rose to 4.81 percent this week from 4.80 percent the previous week. It hit a 40-year low of 4.17 percent in November.

The average rate on the 15-year loan slipped to 4.08 percent from 4.09 percent. It reached 3.57 percent in November, the lowest level on records starting in 1991.

Rates have been little changed this year after spiking more than half a percentage point in the last two months of 2010.

Investors sold off Treasury bonds during that time, driving yields lower. Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.

Weather hurts Target sales

Target Corp.’s weak January sales in the South and Northeast, which were buffeted by winter storms, kept a key revenue figure from meeting analyst forecasts for the retailer.

Target said revenue in stores open at least one year edged up 1.7 percent from January 2010. Overall, groceries and health-and-beauty products were the strongest sellers. Clothing, furniture and electronics were weaker.

Total sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 29 rose 2 percent to $4.38 billion.

So far this fiscal year, Target’s revenue in stores open at least one year has risen 2.1 percent, while its total sales are up 4 percent at $65.79 billion.

Ford recalls F-150 pickups

Ford Motor Co. recalled nearly 365,000 F-150 pickup trucks in North America on Thursday to fix a problem with the interior door handles that could lead to the doors opening in a crash.

Ford said the recall affects about 280,000 F-150s in the U.S. from the 2009 and 2010 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website that a spring in the interior door handle could break, causing the door to fail to latch properly.

If the truck was struck by another vehicle on the side, the government said the door latch could open.

Ford said dealers would inspect the trucks and add reinforcements to the spring or replace the side interior door handle module.

Owners can contact Ford at (866) 436-7332.

Shell reports profits triple

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Europe’s largest oil company, on Thursday reported that fourth quarter profit more than tripled from a year earlier as oil prices rose and the company boosted production.

In addition, Shell’s refining operations reversed losses from a year earlier to make a healthy profit, though not as much as analysts had expected.

Fourth quarter net profit was $6.79 billion, up from $1.96 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The figure included net one-time gains of $1.59 billion, notably from the sale of shares in Australia’s Woodside Petroleum, compared with net charges of $1.60 billion in the same period a year earlier due to restructuring at Shell’s refining operations.

Revenue rose 24 percent to $100 billion.

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