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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 1:00 am


South leads 6.7% rise in new homes

News services

WASHINGTON – Sales of new U.S. homes jumped 6.7 percent in May, with purchases in the South accounting for all of the monthly gains.

The Commerce Department said Monday new homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 689,000, up from 646,000 in April. The South reported monthly sales growth of 17.9 percent, while sales were flat in the Midwest and fell in the Northeast and West.

For the first five months of this year, new-home sales have risen 8.8 percent as a solid job market and shortage of existing homes on the market have boosted demand. In a sign that buyers are eagerly seeking out properties among a diminished inventory, there was a 17.4 percent surge last month in the sale of homes before construction begins.

“With fewer buying options among existing homes, homebuyer demand is shifting towards new builds,” said Ben Ayers, senior economist at Nationwide.

Buyers are also facing additional pressures as home values are generally rising faster than incomes and average 30-year mortgage rates have risen to 4.57 percent from 3.90 percent a year ago. Both of these factors are increasing the monthly costs for repaying home loans.

Distributed power unit sold by GE

GE is selling its distributed power unit to Advent International for $3.25 billion as it continues to shed businesses.

The deal includes distributed power's Jenbacher and Waukesha engines and manufacturing sites in Austria, Canada and the U.S.

The distributed power business had 2017 sales of $1.32 billion and has about 3,000 workers.

The deal is expected to close by the fourth quarter.

GE Chairman and CEO John Flannery was tasked last year with reshaping the Boston company. Shares of General Electric Co. fell slightly in early-morning trading Monday.

Gray, Raycom agree to TV group merger

Gray Television Inc. and Raycom Media Inc. are announcing a merger that would create the third-largest television broadcast group in the United States.

Georgia-based Gray and Alabama-based Raycom said Monday that they've entered into an agreement to combine the companies in a $3.6 billion deal.

The combined operation would have more than 140 television stations serving 92 markets, the companies said in a statement. The communities range from large TV markets such as Cleveland and Tampa-Sarasota, Florida, to small markets such as Ottumwa, Iowa, and Presque Isle, Maine.

Survey: Confidence dips in Germany

A closely watched survey shows that business confidence in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has declined slightly although managers' outlook for the months ahead remains at least slightly optimistic.

The Ifo institute said Monday that its monthly confidence index was down to 101.8 points for June from 102.3 last month. While executives' outlook for the next six months remained unchanged, their assessment of their current situation darkened slightly.

Economists had forecast a decline to 101.7 amid concerns over trade tensions between the U.S., the European Union, China and others. Hard data on the German economy also have tended to disappoint recently.