Business in brief: March home sales up 6.8 percent
Washington – Sales of previously owned U.S. homes jumped 6.8 percent in March, a national group said Thursday.
Real estate agents have been counting on a spring surge brought on by an expanded and extended federal tax credit for buyers. The March sales pace reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units, up from 5.01 million in February and 16.1 percent above the 4.61-million-unit pace in March 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors in Washington.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the group, said the federal tax credit that was to expire at the end of this month had been a “resounding success.”
The national median home price was $170,700 last month, up 0.4 percent from the same month the prior year, the Realtors group said.
Los Angeles Times
US Airways ends talks with United
Chicago – United Airline’s list of potential merger partners narrowed Thursday as US Airways announced that its board decided to formally end talks with the Chicago-based carrier.
News of negotiations between United and US Airways earlier this month spurred Continental Airlines to also enter merger discussions with United, say people close to the carriers.
Analysts consider Continental the preferred partner for United, since the combination would create the world’s largest carrier with relatively little overlap to draw the scrutiny of antitrust regulators.
Hulu will test fee service
Los Angeles – Hulu, the website popular for watching television shows, plans to begin testing a subscription service as soon as May 24, according to people with knowledge of the plans.
Under the proposal, Hulu would continue to provide for free the five most recent episodes of shows such as Fox’s “Glee,” ABC’s “Lost” or NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” But viewers who want to see additional episodes would pay $9.95 a month to access a more comprehensive selection, called Hulu Plus.
Hulu, which ranks second only to Google’s YouTube in terms of monthly video streams in the U.S., said it turned an operating profit in its two most recent quarters. The 2-year-old service, which is owned by media giants News Corp., NBC Universal and the Walt Disney Co., generated more than $100 million in revenue from advertising.
Los Angeles Times
Mortgage rate holds steady
McLean, Va. – Rates on 30-year mortgages didn’t budge from last week and remained above 5 percent, Freddie Mac said Thursday.
The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 5.07 this week, the same as the previous week. A year ago, 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.80 percent, Freddie Mac said.