Stocks rise…US, France reach tax deal averting broader trade war…Home sales rise, inventory doesn’t
CORRECTS home sales item: sales rose 3.6 percent in December, not 3.8 percent
NEW YORK (AP) – Stock indexes are modestly higher in morning trading on Wall Street as health authorities around the world take steps to monitor and contain a deadly virus. Financial markets slid yesterday over fears that the outbreak in China would spread. Technology stocks led the gains at the open. Many of the companies in the sector are reliant on China for sales and could suffer if its economy slumps. IBM was a standout following good fourth-quarter earnings. Banks also rose.
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) – France’s finance minister says his country will delay its digital tax and U.S. will hold off retaliatory sanctions. Bruno Le Maire said in Davos, Switzerland, that he and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) will talk about setting up a global framework on how to tax online business. Le Maire says France will delay collection of the digital tax until December and the U.S. won’t impose retaliatory tariffs. The U.S. had threatened to put tariffs on French wine, cheese and other products. The agreement could avert a new trade skirmish between the United States and the European Union over the lucrative high-tech market.
WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home sales climbed 3.6% in December, but a record-low inventory of houses on the market has caused prices to surge. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes rose last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million. For all of 2019, 5.34 million homes were sold – matching the 2018 level. There is just a three-month supply of single-family houses for sale, the lowest level since the Realtors began tracking the number in 1982. The median sales price has jumped 7.8% over the past year to $274,500.
DETROIT (AP) – Toyota is recalling 361,000 more vehicles worldwide to replace Takata air bag inflators that could explode and hurl shrapnel. About 139,000 of them are in the U.S. The vehicles date to 1997 and have older inflators that are different from Takata products that use volatile ammonium nitrate to fill air bags in a crash. Those are the devices that led to numerous deaths. But the inflators in this recall can also explode with too much force and spew metal fragments that can endanger people. The recall covers gas and electric versions of the RAV4 SUV and the Celica sports car from 1997 to 1999. Also included are the 1997 through 1998 Supra sports car.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – U.N. experts say the phone of Amazon billionaire and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos (BAY’-zohs) was hacked after receiving a file sent from an account used by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The experts are calling for an “immediate investigation” by the United States and others into information they received that suggests that Bezos’ phone was hacked after receiving an MP4 video file sent from the Saudi prince’s WhatsApp account. Bezos went public about the incident after allegedly being shaken down by the National Enquirer tabloid, which he said threatened to expose a “below-the-belt” selfie he’d taken and other private messages.