In brief: Home sales up, but still poor
WASHINGTON – Sales of previously occupied homes rose last month, but not enough to keep August from being the second-worst month for sales in more than a decade.
Sales rose 7.6 percent in August from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.13 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Sales were down 19 percent from the same month a year earlier.
July was the worst month for sales in 15 years.
High unemployment and a record number of foreclosures have kept the economy from gaining strength since the recession ended. Those factors have also deterred many people from buying homes.
The median sale price was $178,600, up 0.8 percent from a year ago.
Mortgage rates flat this week
NEW YORK – Rates on 30-year mortgages this week were unchanged from the previous week, staying slightly above the lowest level in decades.
The average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.37 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. Earlier this month, the rate dipped to 4.32 percent, which was the lowest level on records dating back to 1971.
The average rate on 15-year fixed loans also was unchanged at 3.82 percent.
GM scaling back November IPO
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – General Motors will probably seek to raise $8 billion to $10 billion in an initial public offering in November, a smaller sale than the automaker originally targeted, said two people familiar with the matter.
The Treasury Department, which owns 61 percent of GM, is more interested in fetching a higher share price to eventually recoup its $49.5 billion investment than in cashing out a bigger portion of its position, the sources said.
GM and its investment banks have been considering a deal as large as $16 billion.
Jobless claims move back up
WASHINGTON – The tally of newly laid-off workers requesting unemployment benefits rose last week for the first time in five weeks as the job market remains sluggish.
Initial claims for jobless aid rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 465,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Many economists had expected a flat reading or small drop.
The rise suggests that jobs remain scarce and some companies are still cutting workers amid weak economic growth. Initial claims have fallen from a recent spike above a half-million last month. But they have been stuck above 450,000 for most of this year.
The four-week average of claims, a less volatile measure, declined by 3,250 to 463,250. That’s the lowest level since the end of July, but down by only 4,000 since January.