New home sales rebound in summer
The Commerce Department said sales of new homes rose 4.8% in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.01 million units. That’s on top of the massive jump in new home sales that happened in July, climbing that month by 13.9%.
The gains reported Thursday by the The Commerce Department follow steep declines in March and April when COVID-19 infections spread in the U.S. The pace picked back up in the summer, driving home prices in many places to record highs. Record low mortgage rates have been a major driver of the sales, as well as pent up demand from earlier in the year during the lock downs.
New home sales are now up 43.2% from this point last year.
The median price of a new home sold was $312,800, according to the Commerce Department.
House OKs bill for clean energy
The House has approved a modest bill to promote “clean energy” and increase energy efficiency while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are considered a major driver of global warming.
The bill boosts renewable energy such as solar and wind power, sets stricter energy efficiency standards for buildings and authorizes grants to local communities for more efficient schools, homes and municipal buildings.
The House approved the bill, 220-185, Thursday, sending it to the Senate, where a separate energy bill is pending. The Senate bill, like the House measure, would phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that are used as coolants.
Facebook creates oversight board
Facebook’s long-awaited oversight board that will act as a referee on whether specific content is allowed on the tech giant’s platforms is set to launch in October.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said two years ago that he was setting up the quasi-independent board, following intense criticism that the company wasn’t moving fast enough to remove misinformation, hate speech and malign influence campaigns. The board is intended to rule on thorny content issues, such as when Facebook or Instagram posts constitute hate speech.
“We are currently testing the newly deployed technical systems that will allow users to appeal and the Board to review cases,” it said in a statement Thursday.
If those tests go to plan, the board said it would start accepting and reviewing appeals from users in mid to late October.
The board was initially expected to start operating in early 2020 but the launch was delayed.
“Building a process that is thorough, principled and globally effective takes time and our members have been working aggressively to launch as soon as possible,” the board said.
The board’s 20 members are a multinational group that includes legal scholars, human rights experts and journalists.
Rite Aid cuts quarterly loss
Rite Aid topped Wall Street expectations for the fiscal second quarter and gave a revised annual forecast, one quarter after withdrawing it due to COVID-19 uncertainty.
The drugstore chain said Thursday that its quarterly loss shrank to $13.2 million from $79.3 million in the previous year’s quarter. An income tax drop, an inventory credit and pharmacy sales growth helped.
Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, totaled 25 cents per share. Revenue grew more than 11% to $5.98 billion.
Analysts expected, on average, a penny per share in earnings on $5.75 billion in sales, according to FactSet.
Rite Aid Corp. runs more than 2,400 pharmacies in 18 states and also provides pharmacy benefits through its Elixir business.