SC business notebook, Feb 21

February 21, 2014 

Esurance planning S.C. expansion, 450 jobs

Insurance provider Esurance is planning to expand in Greenville County.

South Carolina officials said Thursday that Esurance is investing $2.1 million in a new sales and claims office that’s expected to create up to 450 jobs in sales and claims.

Esurance was acquired by Allstate in 2011 and sells auto insurance directly to customers online and through call centers.

Officials say the South Carolina office is expected to open this summer. Interested applicants can get more information at http://www.esurance.com/about/jobs

Report: Fewer S.C. farms, more land in production

A new federal report finds that South Carolina has fewer farms but more farming land in recent years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday issued its preliminary Census of Agriculture report that comes out every five years.

The report shows that in 2012, there were almost 25,300 farms in the state. That’s down about 600 from five years earlier.

The nearly 5 million acres of land in farming was up about 80,000 acres from five years earlier.

The average size of a farm is just under 200 acres.

The census found that the market value of farm products sold in the state is just over $3 billion.

Gauge of U.S. economy’s health up 0.3 percent

A measure of the U.S. economy’s health posted a moderate gain in January, suggesting that the economy will continue to expand in the first half of this year.

The Conference Board reported Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.3 percent last month following no change in December and a solid 0.9 percent increase in November. The index is designed to signal economic conditions over the next three to six months.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said the January advance reflects an economy that is expanding moderately. But he said growth was held back over the past two months by severe winter weather in many parts of the country.

Average 30-year U.S. mortgage rate up to 4.33 percent

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose this week but remained near historically low levels.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for the 30-year loan increased to 4.33 percent from 4.28 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage edged up to 3.35 percent from 3.33 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows roughly a year ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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