US new-home sales jump 7.9%
WASHINGTON — Americans stepped up purchases of new homes in August after cutting back in July, suggesting that higher mortgage rates are not yet slowing the housing recovery.
Sales of new homes increased 7.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 421,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That comes after sales plunged 14.1 percent in July to a 390,000 annual rate.
The rebound in sales could ease worries that higher mortgage rates have started to dampen sales. It coincided with the best month of sales for previously occupied homes in more than six years. And homebuilders remain more confident in the market than they’ve been in eight years.
JPMorgan in $11B settlement talks
ALBANY, N.Y. — An $11 billion national settlement is under discussion to resolve claims over JPMorgan’s handling of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the recession, said a government official familiar with ongoing negotiations among bank, federal and state officials.
The Justice Department is taking the lead on the settlement, which would include $7 billion in cash and $4 billion in consumer relief, though the deal also would include states with claims against the bank, the official said. The official spoke Wednesday with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a settlement hasn’t been reached and the person wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly.
The government has continued investigating JPMorgan over mortgage-backed securities, which lost value after a bubble in the housing market burst and helped spur the financial crisis.
- Associated Press
Nairobi attack puts onus on mall safety
NEW YORK — Some malls around the world have been scrambling to add security guards to look for suspicious people following a deadly attack on a shopping center in Nairobi over the weekend. But for other malls, it’s been business as usual.
The mixed reactions by malls across the globe isn’t unusual in an industry whose security efforts vary from unarmed guards in most shopping centers in the U.S. to metal detectors and bag searches in places like Israel to main entrances that resemble airport security lines in India.
The disparity offers a glimpse of why any moves following the Nairobi incident to increase mall security in countries that have less strict procedures aren’t likely to last: The industry continues to struggle with how to keep shoppers safe without scaring them away.
Factory good orders up slightly
WASHINGTON — Companies placed slightly more orders in August for U.S. long-lasting manufactured goods, stepping up demand for cars, trucks and machinery. Even with the gain, business spending on factory goods may not be strong enough to accelerate economic growth in the July-September quarter.
Orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, increased 0.1 percent in August, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That comes after orders plummeted 8.1 percent in July, which was largely because of a steep drop in volatile commercial aircraft orders.
US household wealth jumps
WASHINGTON — U.S. household net worth jumped $1.3 trillion in the spring, fueled by gains in home and stock values.
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that net worth rose to $74.8 trillion in the April-June quarter, up 1.8 percent from the first quarter. Home prices and stock markets have risen further since then, suggesting that Americans’ net worth is now even higher.
The gains in wealth haven’t been evenly distributed. Home ownership has declined since the recession, particularly among lower-income Americans. And the wealthiest 10 percent of households own about 80 percent of stocks.
Americans’ wealth bottomed at $57.2 trillion in 2008 during the Great Recession. It’s since risen $17.6 trillion.
Household wealth, or net worth, reflects the value of assets like homes, stocks and bank accounts minus debts like mortgages and credit cards.
Apple app sends drivers to runway
ANCHORAGE — A glitch in the Apple Maps app on newer iPhones and iPads guides people up to a runway at a major Alaska airport instead of sending them on the proper route to the terminal, an airport official said Wednesday.
The map actually stops at the tarmac, but twice this month, wayward drivers have continued across an active runway at Fairbanks International Airport.
There were no injuries in either the Sept. 6 incident or the second one last Friday, mainly because they both happened early in the morning, between flights.
By the Numbers
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 61.33 points to close at 15,273.26 Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 4.65 points to 1,692.77. The Nasdaq eased 7.16 points to 3,761.10.
Benchmark oil for November delivery dropped 47 cents to finish at $102.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.67 per gallon. Natural gas was flat at $3.49 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $2.97 per gallon.
Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, slipped 32 cents to $108.32 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.