NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have been wavering between small gains and losses as investors weighed the economic recovery’s progress against lingering concerns about inflation.
Homebuilders were among the biggest gainers following a report that U.S. home prices jumped in March by the most in more than seven years. Consumer confidence remains high as the economy reopens and vaccine distribution continues.
Moderna rose 2% after the drugmaker said its COVID-19 vaccine was found to be effective in children aged 12 to 15.
Investors are still worried that rising inflation could hurt eventually prompt central banks to withdraw stimulus to combat rising prices.
In a sizzling US market, demand and prices for homes soar
WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s housing market has grown so overheated as demand outpaces supply that prices keep hitting record highs — and roughly half of all U.S. houses are now selling above their list price.
Two years ago, before the pandemic struck, just a quarter of homes were selling above the sellers’ asking price, according to data from the real estate brokerage Redfin. Today, new data further illuminated the red-hot nature of the housing market: Prices rose in March at the fastest pace in more than seven years.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index jumped 13.3% in March compared with a year earlier — the biggest such gain since December 2013.
US new home sales fell 5.9% in April after big March gain
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new homes fell a bigger-than-expected 5.9% in April, a drop that analysts blamed in part on soaring home prices.
The Commerce Department says sales dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 863,000 last month. That followed a sales pace of 917,000 in March. The March number was revised down from an original estimate of 1.02 million sales, which would have been the fastest pace since August 2006 during the peak of the housing boom.
The median price of a new home sold last month was $372,400, up 11.4% from March while the average price of a home sold in April was a record $435,400, up 8.7% from March.
Consumer confidence ticks down in May, but remains strong
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Consumer confidence ticked down slightly in May but remains nearly as high as its been since the pandemic began.
The Conference Board reports that its consumer confidence index fell to 117.2 from April’s 117.5 reading. The present situation index, based on consumers assessment of current business and labor market conditions, rose to 144.3 from 131.9.
Economists have said that rising confidence should bolster overall economic growth as consumers, who account for 70% of economic activity, spend more as lockdown restrictions are eased or abandoned altogether in many places.
Moderna says its COVID-19 shot works in kids as young as 12
UNDATED (AP) — Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12. The company released the preliminary findings based on testing on more than 3,700 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States.
Earlier this month, the U.S. and Canada authorized another vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech to be used starting at age 12. Moderna intends to submit its teen data to the Food and Drug Administration and other global regulators early next month.
Moderna says its vaccine triggered the same signs of immune protection in kids as it does in adults, and the same mild, temporary side effects.
DC files antitrust case vs Amazon over treatment of vendors
WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia has sued Amazon, accusing the online retail giant of illegal anticompetitive practices in its treatment of sellers on its platform. The DC attorney general alleges in an antitrust suit that the practices have raised prices for consumers and stifled innovation and choice in the online retail market.
The suit maintains that Amazon has fixed online retail prices through contract provisions and policies it applies to third-party sellers on its platform. It alleges these provisions and policies prevent sellers that offer products on Amazon.com from offering their products at lower prices or on better terms on any other online platform, including their own websites.
German regulator probes Google’s market position, data use
BERLIN (AP) — German regulators have launched an investigation into Google’s position in the market, and how the search and advertising giant handles user data.
The Federal Cartel Office says it has started proceedings against Google entities in Germany, Ireland and California based on new provisions in German competition law that apply to large digital companies. Similar probes were launched into the activities of Facebook and Amazon in recent months.
Under the provisions, which came into force in January, the Federal Cartel Office can ban companies which are of “paramount significance for competition across markets” from engaging in practices deemed to be anti-competitive.
Flight attendant loses 2 teeth in assault by passenger
DALLAS (AP) — A Southwest Airlines flight attendant lost two teeth when she was attacked by a passenger this weekend, and the president of her union calls it part of a disturbing increase in unruly passengers.
The president of the Southwest flight attendants’ union, Lyn Montgomery, says she wants more air marshals and a tougher stance against disruptive passengers.
The attack happened Sunday after a flight from Sacramento landed in San Diego. Southwest says the passenger was taken into custody.
The Federal Aviation Administration says airlines have reported about 2,500 cases of unruly passengers this year.
Social media heavyweights wooed for Pfizer smear campaign
LE PECQ, France (AP) — Social media influencers in France with hundreds of thousands of followers say a mysterious advertising agency offered to pay them if they agreed to smear Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine with negative fake stories. The smear effort drew a withering response from French Health Minister Olivier Veran, who called it “pathetic.”
French YouTuber Léo Grasset is among those contacted. He told The Associated Press that he was asked to make bogus claims that the Pfizer vaccine poses a particularly deadly risk. Grasset, who has 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube, says he refused.
Other France-based influencers with sizable audiences on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms also said they were contacted with offers of payment for posts.