Stocks tumble…Home sales drop…Watchdog toughens global financial scrutiny of Iran
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are tumbling in morning trading on Wall Street as cases of the new virus swelled in South Korea. Anxiety over the outbreak has knocked stocks back from record highs and indexes are on track for their first weekly loss after two weeks of gains. Technology companies are leading the losses. Companies that rely on consumer spending are also falling broadly, particularly those related to travel and tourism. Real estate companies and utilities are doing better than most of the market. Bond prices rose and pushed yields lower. Gold prices rose.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Home sales retreated 1.3% in January from December. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes slipped last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million. Sales have climbed 9.6% over the past 12 months as borrowing costs have fallen, but that trend could change in the coming months because of a shortage of homes listed for sale. Just 1.42 million homes were on the market at the end of January, a 10.7% decline from a year ago. With fewer homes for sale, would-be buyers have fewer options and prices are rising faster than wage growth. The median sales price in January was $266,300, up 6.8% from a year ago.
LONDON (AP) – A survey shows that business activity in the 19-country eurozone has picked up in February from a deep slump, particularly in Germany’s big industrial sector. The improvement comes despite disruption from the new coronavirus. The survey of business managers by financial firm IHS Markit showed that the economy grew in February at its fastest rate in six months as services grew and trouble in manufacturing eased. New business orders remained constrained amid global uncertainties that have weighed on growth in recent months, particularly trade uncertainties. The survey showed that the virus outbreak, which originated and largely affected China, hurt travel, tourism and delayed supplies to businesses in Europe.
PARIS (AP) – An international agency that monitors terrorism financing has announced tough new financial scrutiny for Iran and added seven countries to a watch list. Pakistan, however, was given a four-month reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force. The monitoring body’s assessments came after meetings this week in Paris. Pakistan got another four months to crack down on terrorism financing. And Pakistan was not put on the agency’s black list. International financial transactions of black-listed countries are under close watch. Seven countries who ended up on an intermediary gray list are Albania, áBarbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A private equity firm has announced what it calls legally binding commitments designed to ease concerns that its proposed $1.1 billion private takeover of the dot-org domain-setting registry would lead to price gouging and censorship. Ethos Capital wants to buy the Public Interest Registry, the nonprofit corporation that controls more than 10 million dot-org names registered worldwide. Organizations ranging from the Girl Scouts of the USA and Consumer Reports to the American Bible Society have opposed the registry’s sale to a private firm. Some critics fear a new owner could change policies – such as hiking the $10 annual fees the registry collects for each registered name – and reduce protections for domain name owners.