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Consumer Watch: Mortgages, Starbucks, and Facebook
Mortgage rates have fallen to record low for the second straight week. The rate on a 30-year loan has dropped to 3.36 percent, down from last week's 3.4 percent. The declines have led more homeowners to re-finance, a trend that could help boost the economy. Rates have declined since the Federal Reserve's announcement that it would buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities a month to help support the housing market and stimulate the economy.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he is hoping to open 1,000 new stores in the U.S. over the next five years. The new cafes, which will each employ about 20 workers, means the addition of 20,000 jobs. Schultz has been countering slow growth here at home with expansions abroad. The coffee chain is on track to have 1,500 stores in China by 2015 - and has set the date for its first store to open in India.
Facebook has reached a new milestone - more than one billion people now log on each month to check up on old friends, share photos and post updates. The new figure doubles the 500 million mark Facebook hit in July 2010. This latest milestone amounts to nearly half of the world's roughly 2.5 billion internet users.