W3C Valid XHTML 1.0
Christoper S. Rugaber
Associated Press|ap.org

WASHINGTON (AP) — A fourth straight monthly increase in sales of existing homes provided the latest evidence Thursday that the U.S. housing market is rebounding from a weak start to the year.

Housing has been a drag on an otherwise strengthening economy, in part because a harsh winter delayed many sales. But Americans are stepping up purchases as more homes have been put up for sale. And low mortgage rates and moderating price gains have made homes more affordable. read more »

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Would-be home sellers across the country are grappling with a once-in-a-lifetime problem: They have mortgage rates so absurdly low it would hurt them financially to sell.

Doing so would mean giving up an irresistible rate in exchange for a new mortgage carrying a rate up to a percentage point higher. Their monthly payments would be larger even for a house of the same price. That’s discouraging some people from selling, thereby limiting the supply of available homes and contributing to slower home sales. read more »

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Great Recession and the slow recovery have sharply widened the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, according to a study that underscores the unevenness of wealth gains since the recession ended.

The richest 5 percent had 24 times the wealth of the median household in 2013 — up substantially from 16.5 times as much in 2007, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers. read more »

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time since 1999, American employers have added more than 200,000 jobs a month for four straight months, offering more evidence that the U.S. economy is steadily growing while much of Europe and Asia struggle.

Last month’s gain of 217,000 jobs means the economy has finally recovered all the jobs lost to the Great Recession. And it coincides with indications that American consumers have grown more confident. Auto sales have surged. Manufacturers and service companies are expanding. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers advertised more job openings in January, suggesting that hiring will remain healthy in coming months.

Job openings rose 2.2 percent in January from December to 3.69 million, the Labor Department said March 12. Openings had fallen nearly 5 percent in December, and they remain below November’s level of nearly 3.8 million.

Yet the report provided further evidence that the U.S. job market is strengthening. Employers laid off fewer workers in January than in any month since records began in 2001. And the number of Americans who quit their jobs rose to the highest in more than four years. People usually quit when they have another job, so more quitting suggests it is easier to find work. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — The political standoff over the U.S. budget is slowing the U.S. economy — more so than any hesitance by Americans to spend freely.

That consensus emerges from the latest Associated Press Economy Survey just as the budget impasse in Washington is about to trigger automatic spending cuts across the economy.

Many of the economists think consumer spending has slowed in response to higher tax burdens but will rebound later in the year. By contrast, they worry that the budget fights in Washington will persist for much of 2013 and drag on economic growth. read more »

 

NEW YORK — As the fortunes of many Americans go, so goes Wal-Mart, so goes the economy.

Even as the world’s largest retailer reported an 8.6 percent rise in fourth quarter profit during the busy holiday shopping season, it offered a weaker forecast for the coming months. The problem? The poor and middle-class Americans Wal-Mart caters to — and who are big drivers of spending in the U.S. - are struggling with rising gas prices, delayed income tax refunds and higher payroll taxes.

Melanie M. Burkhardt, a mother of two teenagers who shops at Wal-Mart, is one of those people. Burkhardt, a Waycross, Ga., resident, said she’s been hit with a double whammy: the payroll tax hike, which has cut her household monthly income by $260, and higher gas prices. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — Americans barely spent more last month at retail businesses and restaurants after higher taxes cut into their paychecks. The small increase suggests consumer spending may be weak in the January-March quarter, which could hold back economic growth.

Retail sales ticked up 0.1 percent in January from December, the Commerce Department said Feb. 13. That follows a 0.5 percent increase in December and is the smallest in three months.

Sales fell at auto dealerships, clothing stores and furniture stores. The declines came after big gains in each of those categories in December. Sales rose last month at home improvement stores, gas stations and online retailers. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. job market is proving surprisingly strong and raising hopes that the economy will be resilient enough this year to withstand a budget standoff in Washington and potentially deep cuts in federal spending.

Employers added 157,000 jobs last month, and hiring turned out to be healthier than previously thought at the end of 2012 just as the economy faced the threat of the “fiscal cliff.”

Still, unemployment remains persistently high. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent last month from 7.8 percent in December.

Many economists, though, focused on the steady job growth — especially the healthier-than-expected hiring late last year. The Labor Department revised its estimates of job gains for November from an initial 161,000 to 247,000 and for December from 155,000 to 196,000. read more »

 
Syndicate content