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Home-price index up 6.2% in November

WASHINGTON -- U.S. home prices rose a sharply in November, lifted by a shortage of homes on the market.

Standard & Poor's said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index increased 6.2 percent in November from a year earlier after climbing 6.1 percent in October.

Seattle saw a 12.7 percent price increase, Las Vegas 10.6 percent and San Francisco 9.1 percent. Washington D.C. prices rose just 3.3 percent, lowest among the 20 metropolitan areas measured.

The national housing index has registered annual gains of 5 percent or more for 16 months.

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted that housing construction is running well below historical levels. "Without more supply, home prices may continue to substantially outpace inflation," he said.

-- The Associated Press

State team to string lines in Guatemala

A team of 15 linemen from the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas will travel to Guatemala in February to build power lines to deliver electricity to about 100 villagers who have never had electrical service.

Since 2013, linemen from the cooperatives have built power lines that have provided electricity to more than 1,700 Bolivians and Guatemalans.

The Arkansas linemen's primary project is to build about 7.5 miles of power lines that will have multiple connections to homes and huts, said Duane Highley, chief executive officer of Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

The new power lines will help improve the quality of life to rural Guatemalans just as rural Americans experienced in the 1930s and 1940, Highley said.

"As we have seen and experienced in our blessed nation, the quality of life that electricity brings is beyond measure," Highley said.

-- David Smith

Chesapeake Energy lets 400 workers go

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Chesapeake Energy Corp. has announced the layoffs of about 400 employees, the vast majority at its headquarters in Oklahoma City.

The layoffs were announced Tuesday in an email to employees from Chesapeake Chief Executive Officer Doug Lawler.

Lawler says the layoffs are part of the company's continuing effort to "structure and position" itself for success.

The layoffs include about 330 employees in Oklahoma City. The remainder will be at company field offices in Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. That accounts for about 13 percent of the company's workforce.

The job cuts leave Chesapeake with a total of about 2,900 employees. About 1,800 of them are in Oklahoma City.

Lawler's email says employees affected by the layoffs will receive undisclosed assistance in "their personal and career transition."

-- The Associated Press

Consumer confidence rises in January

WASHINGTON -- Americans continued to feel confident about the economy this month, a good sign for consumer spending and economic growth.

The Conference Board, a business research group, says its consumer confidence index rose to 125.4 in January from a revised 123.1 in December.

The business research group's index measures consumers' assessment of current conditions and their outlook for the next six months. Their view of today's conditions slipped slightly, but their expectations for the future rose.

Economists watch the Conference Board report closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic output.

Consumer spending rose at a 3.8 percent annual pace from October through December, the fastest pace since the spring of 2016. But Americans haven't been getting big pay raises, so they've had to dip into savings.

-- The Associated Press

SpaceX seeks Texas cash for spaceport

BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- SpaceX is seeking up to $5 million more in new state funding to build a commercial spaceport in Texas, a high-profile project that's behind schedule after breaking ground in 2014.

SpaceX is seeking the money to help build infrastructure related to the launch facility at Boca Chica beach outside Brownsville, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. recently applied for the $5 million at the request of SpaceX, according to County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. The new money for the project would come from the Spaceport Trust Fund, a state economic development fund.

About $15.3 million in state funding has already been set aside for the planned spaceport, but less than $3 million has been used so far. SpaceX has also returned a small portion of the funds pledged from the state's jobs-focused Texas Enterprise Fund because the company fell short of hiring goals as the project couldn't keep pace with its original timetable.

The California-based company was founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing the cost of space travel and eventually facilitating the colonization of Mars.

-- The Associated Press

Volkswagen suspends chief lobbyist

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Volkswagen suspended its chief lobbyist Tuesday amid a growing furor over revelations that the company and other German carmakers had financed experiments on monkeys as part of an effort to prove that emissions controls efficiently cleaned diesel exhaust.

Thomas Steg, a former aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, agreed to step down from his position as an internal review proceeds into an organization sponsored by carmakers that produced research in support of the industry's political agenda, Volkswagen said.

"Mr. Steg has expressed his willingness to accept full responsibility," Matthias Müller, Volkswagen's chief executive, said in a statement. "I have respected this."

The carmakers' attempt to influence the scientific debate, detailed in a New York Times article last week, has misfired badly and threatened to become a liability for Merkel, who is struggling to form a coalition government after winning a narrow plurality in elections last year.

-- The New York Times

Business on 01/31/2018

Print Headline: Home-price index up 6.2% in November State team to string lines in Guatemala Chesapeake Energy lets 400 workers go Consumer confidence rises in January SpaceX seeks Texas cash for spaceport Volksw...

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