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Business in brief: Home sales still high here

Thu., Nov. 22, 2007, midnight

Spokane’s third-quarter home sales remain among the nine best out of 149 U.S. Metro areas, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.

NAR compared percentage gains in median sales prices during third quarter to the same period of 2006. The Spokane Metro area reported an 8.2 percent gain, bringing the area’s median sales price to $206,800.

However, Spokane’s price gains are slowing. During the second quarter, the area reported 10.4 percent growth in median sales prices.

Out of the 149 metro areas, Bismark, N.D., posted the strongest percentage gains during the third quarter at 15.1 percent. Salt Lake City was next with a 14.1 percent gain. Yakima also appeared on the list with a 13.6 percent gain.

Jim Beckett, president of the Yakima Association of Realtors, credited the growth in housing prices to a steady job market and population growth, including retirees who are moving to the area for lower cost of living.

– Becky Kramer

WASHINGTON

Kid jewelry made in China recalled

More than a half-million pieces of Chinese-made children’s jewelry contaminated with lead are being recalled, it was announced Wednesday.

The recalled merchandise involves 205,000 pieces sold by Family Dollar Stores Inc., 200,000 pieces sold by Michaels Stores Inc., 43,000 charm bracelets and tack pin sets sold by Big Lots Inc. and 45,000 stretchable bracelets imported by Cherrydale Fundraising LLC, 10,400 necklaces and bracelets manufactured by Colossal Jewelry & Accessories Inc., and 4,500 necklace and earring sets made by La Femme NY 2 Inc., officials announced.

The enforcement action was a cooperative effort by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition to the recall, a number of retailers, including Big Lots and Michaels, agreed in a settlement to immediately stop sales of lead-tainted jewelry.

– Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Caps urged for phone subsidies

Subsidies for companies that provide telephone service in rural areas should be capped and part of the money should be dedicated to wireless phone and high-speed Internet service, a government advisory board says.

The Federal Communications Commission oversees the program, which makes direct payments to telecommunications companies that offer phone service in rural areas where it is expensive to provide.

A joint federal-state board recommended late Tuesday that the so-called “high-cost” portion of the program be capped at $4.5 billion. That part of the program has expanded tenfold the past four years without any changes to where the money goes.

The board recommended $1 billion be set aside for wireless phone service and $300 million for broadband Internet service provided to residences in underserved areas.

– Associated Press


 

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