Dollars & Sense

Workshop takes aim at home foreclosures

A free state-sponsored workshop to help homeowners avoid foreclosure will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at San Joaquin Delta College, 5151 Pacific Ave., Stockton. Credit counselors, loan servicers and lenders from Bank of America, Carrington Mortgage Servicing, Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and Wilshire Credit will offer on-site assistance and information on ways people could keep their homes. Homeowners and lenders will be able to discuss options privately on how to deal with looming mortgage rate increases and payment defaults caused by previous rate increases. Homeowners are asked to bring their loan documents and other relevant financial information to the workshop to take advantage of on-site loan counselors. The workshop is sponsored by California's Consumer Services Agency and Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. Additional workshops are scheduled in Downey on Feb. 9, San Diego on Feb. 13, Sacramento on Feb. 16 and Riverside on Feb. 23. For detailed information about

the workshops, visit or

Home Depot jobs cut

Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc., the world's largest home improvement store chain, said Thursday that it is cutting 500 jobs at its headquarters,

in part because of market conditions caused by the slowing U.S. economy. The job cuts represent 10 percent of the 5,000 employees who work at Home Depot's headquarters. The company has more than 350,000 employees worldwide.

Mortgage rates up

Rates on 30-year mortgages rose for the first time this year after four consecutive weekly declines. Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.68 percent this week, up from 5.48 percent last week.

Spending is weak

Buffeted by soaring fuel prices and tighter credit, consumers increased their spending at the weakest pace in six months.

In other signs of trouble, applications for unemployment benefits last week soared by the largest number since Hurricane Katrina. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that consumer spending edged up just 0.2 percent in December -- the year's peak shopping season. It was the weakest performance in this area since a similar 0.2 percent rise in June of last year.