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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Briefs for Saturday

Jan. 22, 2021 Updated Fri., Jan. 22, 2021 at 10:59 p.m.

WASHINGTON – Sales of existing homes rose 0.7% in December, pushing the entirety of 2020 to a pace not seen in 14 years and providing one of the few bright spots for a U.S. economy mired in a global pandemic.

Rising sales in the final month of the year lifted activity to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.76 million units in December, the National Association of Realtors reported Friday.

For all of 2020, sales rose to 6.48 million, the highest level since 2006 at the height of the housing boom. That represented a 5.6% gain from the 5.34 million previously owned homes sold in 2019.The median sales prices was $309,800 in December, up 12.9% from a year ago.

Carnival extends cruise delays

Carnival Corp.’s flagship cruising brand extended its pause on U.S. departures through the end of April and shelved operations in Australia through mid-May amid lingering pandemic concerns.

Carnival Cruise Line also canceled European trips on Carnival Legend that had been poised to start in May, and delayed trips on Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral, Florida, until the end of that month, according to a statement Friday.

The announcement is the latest in a long line of delays since the entire industry essentially went on hold in mid-March.

In the pandemic’s early days, outbreaks on ships killed customers and crew and turned some vessels into pariahs that no port would accept.

From wire reports

With the vaccine rollout just beginning in earnest, many of the companies seem to be writing off a significant part of 2021, having raised billions of dollars in debt to keep themselves solvent. Even when they start taking customers again, Carnival Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald has said, any resumption is likely to be gradual.

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