Roundup: Offshore auction / Mortgage rates / Minimum wage hike

    Bidding: The federal government will offer 77.8 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 21 for oil and gas exploration and development. An Interior Department statement says the lease sale will include 14,585 tracts. In March, 78.5 million acres were offered and about 1.3 million acres secured $244.3 million in high bids. The high-bid total was about 37% above the previous sales and nearly double the March 2018 figure. Read the full story. 

    Homebuying: U.S. long-term mortgage rates rose this week after three weeks of holding steady, lifted by expectations that the Federal Reserve could reduce interest rates soon. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said this morning the average rate on the benchmark 30-year mortgage increased to 3.81% from 3.75% last week. Those are historically low levels for the key rate, which a year ago stood at 4.52% The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans ticked up to 3.23%, from 3.22% last week. Read the full report. 

    Congress: House Democrats approved legislation Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade to $15 an hour, but the bill has almost no chance in the Republican-controlled Senate. Passage was assured after centrists won concessions for a slower phase-in, over six years instead of five. They also won assurances the pay hike could be halted midway if a study shows job losses or other adverse effects. Read the full story.  

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