U.S. existing home sales climbed last month
Sales of previously owned U.S. homes increased in January, showing more momentum for the industry coming off its best year since 2007. Purchases of existing houses, tabulated when a contract closes, increased 0.4 percent to a 4.92 million annual rate, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed. The median forecast of 79 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 4.9 million pace. Sales trends in the Twin Cities area were similar, but the gains were much stronger. On a year-over-year basis, local home sales during January were 11 percent higher than last year, the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors reported, compared with a 9 percent gain nationally.
Consumer price index shows inflation at bay
Despite worry in some corners about the Federal Reserve’s stimulus efforts stoking inflation, there continues to be little indication that consumer prices are heading higher. The consumer price index was flat in January for the second month in a row, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. A drop in gas prices and a halt to recent gains in food prices held down the overall index. Compared with a year ago, the consumer price measure for January was up a mild 1.6 percent.
Ford to add jobs at Cleveland engine plant
Ford Motor Co. is adding 450 jobs and expanding an engine plant in Ohio to feed the growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars and SUVs in the U.S. market. Ford, the nation’s second-largest automaker after General Motors, said it would spend $200 million to renovate its Cleveland engine plant to produce small, turbocharged engines for use in its top-selling models. The move is the latest by automakers to expand production in the United States, where sales have increased 14 percent so far this year compared with 2012.
Jobless claims rise but remain moderate
The number of Americans who applied last week for new unemployment benefits rose sharply, though it remained at a level that suggests slow but steady improvement in the labor market. Initial jobless claims rose 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000 in the week ended Saturday, the Labor Department said. The monthly average of jobless claims, a more accurate number that smooths out weekly volatility, rose by 8,000 to 360,750. That’s the highest level since the first week of January.
New Citigroup CEO taking home $11.5 million
Citigroup Inc., whose shareholders rejected its former leader’s pay package, gave new CEO Michael Corbat an $11.5 million compensation deal for 2012. The payout for 2012 includes a $4.18 million cash bonus and $3.14 million of so-called performance share units, or PSUs, according to a regulatory filing. Shareholders rejected former CEO Vikram Pandit’s 2011 pay plan last year amid complaints it was too easy for him to collect his $15 million package plus long-term incentives worth about $40 million.
FROM NEWS SERVICES