Money in a Minute: Headlines From Around the Web

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In today's news: Mortgage rates fall to a new low, the Fed chief warns Congress about the federal debt, jobless claims are dropping, 401(k)s are rising, and Facebook and Google go to war.

HOUSING: Mortgage rates slide to lowest levels of year so far

Maybe this will get home sales moving: “Fixed mortgage rates have fallen to their lowest levels of the year,” MSNBC reports. “The average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.63 percent from 4.71. The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage slipped to 3.82 percent.”

FEDERAL BUDGET: Bernanke cautions against using debt limit as ‘bargaining chip’

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is warning Congress and the president not to play politics with the federal debt. “I think using the debt limit as a bargaining chip is quite risky,” Bernanke said in congressional testimony. If the two parties don’t work together, that “would have extremely dire consequences for the U.S. economy.”

JOBS: First-time jobless claims fall

They’re up, they’re down. Last week, jobless claims rose, but now they’re dropping again. “In the week ending May 7, 434,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits,” CNN reports. “That marked a major decline from the 478,000 initial claims filed the week before.”

RETIREMENT: 401(k) savings are on the rise

During the recession, fewer workers contributed to their retirement accounts – obviously. But now that’s turned around. “401(k) plans are on a major upswing, with balances reaching a 12-year high,” USA Today reports. ‘The change not only reflects market gains but participants also increased their contributions by 3.5% in the first quarter.”

TECH: Facebook vs. Google fight turns nasty

Two of the Internet’s biggest players have always competed. But now the fight between Google and Facebook is getting nasty, with email rumors flying – and Google planning a frontal assault. “Sources close to Google say the company is developing a direct Facebook competitor,” CNN reports, “a stealth project engineers jokingly refer to as ‘Googbook.'”

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