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Business in brief: Home sales continue to fall

The Spokesman-Review

Nationally, sales of existing homes decreased for the sixth straight month in January, dropping to the slowest sales pace on record. Median home prices also were down and many analysts predicted further price declines in the months ahead given high levels of unsold homes.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of single-family homes and condominiums dropped by 0.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units. That was the slowest sales pace, going back to 1999, and was seen as evidence that the steepest slump in housing in a quarter-century has yet to hit bottom.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, said the national housing market may be on the verge of bottoming out with a rebound expected to start toward the end of this year. Other other economists said they still did not see a significant turnaround in housing until late this year or possibly early 2009.


Pakistan agency’s action pulls plug on YouTube

Most of the world’s Internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours Sunday after an attempt by Pakistan’s government to block access domestically affected other countries.

On Friday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered 70 Internet service providers to block access to because of anti-Islamic movies on the video-sharing site, which is owned by Google Inc. The block was intended to cover only Pakistan, but extended to about two-thirds of the global Internet population, according to Renesys Corp., a Manchester, N.H., firm that keeps track of the pathways of the Internet for telecommunications companies and other clients.


Survey finds most plan to pay mortgage, retire

More than three-quarters of U.S. citizens expect to pay off their mortgages before they retire despite falling housing prices and record numbers of foreclosures, according to a survey released Monday.

The survey, conducted by the American Savings Education Council and other groups, quizzed more than 1,000 adults offered a mix of optimism and doubt when presenting a picture of the savings habits of Americans. Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, said surprising answers like the response to the mortgage question stemmed from overly-rosy self-assessments by consumers.

“Hard data about savings behavior suggest that responses to several questions were buoyed by the personal optimism of respondents,” Brobeck said.


Jaguar, Land Rover announcement due soon

A top British union official said Monday the sale of luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Co. to India’s Tata Motors Ltd. could be announced March 5 or 6.

Dave Osborne, the automotive industry national secretary for the Unite union, said Tata told the union last week it would keep employment in the U.K. at about the current level of 15,300.

He said the Indian automaker told the union it had no plans to sell Jaguar or build Land Rovers in India.

Ford spokesman John Gardiner declined to comment on dates for the sale.

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