Business news briefs: Positive signs for area's housing market
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West Penn Multi-List reported the number of homes under agreement to be sold in the 13-county region it serves in Western Pennsylvania rose to 3,955 in June 2012, up from 3,336 in June 2011 or an increase of 18.5 percent. The average home sales price jumped 12.9 percent to $194,500 from $172,177 in June 2011. Meanwhile, the inventory of homes for sale continues to lag. The number of new listings fell 6 percent to 3,589 last month from 3,825 in June last year.
Wesco International Inc., the Station Square-based provider of electrical, industrial and communications products, announced Thursday it had closed on its acquisition of Trydor Industries Ltd., a British Columbia company that distributes and services high-voltage electrical products. The acquisition, announced last month for an undisclosed amount, is designed to bolster Wesco's presence in Canada.
Fixed U.S. mortgage rates fell again to record lows, providing prospective buyers with more incentive to brave a modestly recovering housing market. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.62 percent. That's down from 3.66 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s. The average rate on the 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing option, slipped to 2.89 percent, below last week's previous record of 2.94 percent. The rate on the 30-year loan has fallen to or matched record low levels in 10 of the past 11 weeks.
Walgreen Co. took another step Thursday in its push to grow through acquisitions when it announced the $438 million purchase of a regional chain that operates USA Drug, Super D and May's drugstores. The Deerfield, Ill., company plans to buy 144 stores in a chain focused on the mid-South from the privately held Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings Inc., which is based in Little Rock, Ark. Walgreen said last month that it will buy a stake in European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots, the largest drugstore chain in the United Kingdom.
Fewer Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments and companies added more workers than forecast, easing concern the labor market is faltering further. Applications for jobless benefits fell 14,000 in the week ended June 30 to 374,000, Labor Department figures showed. Private employers expanded payrolls by 176,000 last month, according to figures released Thursday by Roseland, New Jersey- based ADP Employer Services, exceeding the most optimistic estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.
Pump prices averaged $3.388 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline this week in Western Pennsylvania, down 5.7 cents from last week, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge. A year earlier, the average was $3.523. The average for a gallon of unleaded nationwide this week was $3.329.
First Published July 6, 2012 12:00 am