Business news in brief

Posted: August 1, 2017 at 1:52 a.m.

Pending home sales pick up in June

WASHINGTON -- Americans signed more contracts to buy homes in June, snapping a three-month decline in pending sales.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its pending home sales index rose 1.5 percent in June to 110.2. The gain still puts the pace of contract signings below its March level. The index has increased just half a point from a year ago.

The U.S. housing market is increasingly confronted with a shortage of properties listed for sale. In the aftermath of the housing bubble bursting a decade ago, there are multiple reasons for the lack of homes available to buy. Investors who bought foreclosed houses during the downturn are now renting them out, while many existing homeowners say that if they sell their house, they cannot afford the down payment to buy a more expensive property.

As a consequence, prices are climbing faster than wages while the number of homes listed for sale has plunged. All of this limits just how much sales volumes can advance.

There were 1.96 million homes for sale in June, a 7.1 percent decline from a year ago.

The median sales price has climbed 6.5 percent over the past year to $263,800, a rate more than double the increase in hourly average earnings.

-- The Associated Press

2 half-built nuclear plants scrapped

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Scana Corp. has halted construction of two nuclear reactors in South Carolina that were plagued by years of delays and billions in cost overruns after carrying out an analysis of how much would be needed to finish the project after the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Co.

Scana, an energy firm that takes its name from the letters in South Carolina, will file a petition with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina seeking approval of its abandonment plan, according to a statement on Monday. Uncertainty over the availability of production tax credits and the amount of payments guaranteed from Westinghouse parent Toshiba Corp. were also factors behind the decision.

Scana shares slumped the most in more than two years at the end of last week after the utility said the two reactors being built as part of the V.C. Summer plant expansion faced "significant challenges" in getting completed. Monday's decision also came after Santee Cooper, the state power authority with a 45 percent stake in the project, concluded it wouldn't be in the best interests of its customers to continue.

In the immediate aftermath of Westinghouse's bankruptcy at the end of March, Scana Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh had said that scrapping the project would be the "least preferred option."

-- Bloomberg News

Lyft's ridership already tops '16 total

DETROIT -- Ride-hailing service Lyft carried more passengers through June this year than it did in all of last year as it capitalized on missteps at Uber.

The company said ridership through June surpassed the 162.5 million rides it gave in all of 2016. A spokesman wouldn't give an exact number.

Lyft has made its gains in part at the expense of its much larger rival. Some riders boycotted Uber after the company tweeted that "Surge pricing has been turned off at JFK Airport" when New York taxi drivers refused to pick up travelers there in protest of President Donald Trump's first order on immigration. There also were reports of widespread sexual harassment at Uber's headquarters.

Lyft wouldn't comment on Uber but said it added 160 U.S. cities this year. The company operates only in the U.S.

Uber says it's given more than 5 billion rides since 2010.

-- The Associated Press

Maker of glitchy engines repays airline

GURUGRAM, India -- Pratt & Whitney is paying compensation to IndiGo as the manufacturer struggles to fix glitches in engines that power Airbus SE A320neo jets.

"We continue to have a higher number of engine removals, and sufficient spare engines have not been available," IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said on a conference call Monday. "The operational disruptions are quite challenging, and we are not happy with that situation."

The airline, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., was forced to ground as many nine new A320neo jets on some days, Ghosh said. It may be a year or so before Pratt & Whitney implements design changes to the geared turbofan, he said, declining to comment on the amount, mode or the timing of the compensation.

The groundings, which emerged in recent months, are holding back IndiGo's push to add capacity to maintain its domestic market share of more than 40 percent amid a travel boom triggered by an emerging middle-class flying for the first time. The airline, India's biggest and the world's top customer for the A320neo, has said in the past it will consider a rival engine manufactured by CFM International, an alliance of General Electric Co. and Safran SA, if glitches persist with the Pratt engines.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 08/01/2017

Nuclear power might be the devil, but it's the devil we still need to make peace with.

Posted by: kafantaris

August 1, 2017 at 9:05 a.m. ( | suggest removal )