US Home Sales Fell 0.7%, 4th Straight Monthly Decline

U.S. sales of existing homes slipped for the fourth consecutive month, declining 0.7 percent in July to the slowest pace in more than two years as the real estate market shows signs of cooling.

The National Association of Realtors says homes sold last month at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.34 million. Home sales have fallen 1.5 percent during the past 12 months.

The U.S. housing market is hurt by a widening wealth gap, as inventories of lower-priced homes remain tight. Sales of single-family houses worth more than $500,000 have jumped in the past year. But homes priced between $100,000 and $250,000 — a level the middle class can afford — have barely budged.

The median sales price in July increased 4.5 percent from a year ago to $269,600.

San Francisco’s $2.2B ‘Grand Central’ Terminal Ready

San Francisco is welcoming a new $2.2 billion transit terminal to the city after eight years of construction.

The San Francisco Transbay Terminal opened this month and is expected to accommodate as many as 45 million people annually.

The transit hub spans three city blocks and includes a bus deck, a towering sky-lit central entrance hall and a rooftop park with an outdoor amphitheater.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the terminal’s cost rose from $1.6 billion at its 2010 groundbreaking to more than $2 billion in 2016, because of what one analyst called “optimistic assumptions.”

Salesforce bought naming rights to the center in 2017 as part of a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship agreement. The online business software company opened its adjacent 61-story Salesforce Tower three months ago.

New Mexico Utility Seeks to Join Western Energy Market

New Mexico’s largest electric utility is asking state regulators for approval to join a trading market that allows participants in several western states to buy and sell energy to better balance supply and demand.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is among those expected to join the energy imbalance market by 2020 while large utilities in Arizona, Nevada and Utah already are on board.

Public Service Co. of New Mexico wants to join by 2021, saying the move could save an estimated $17 million annually and ensure more efficient use of the region’s renewable energy.

It would cost about $28 million to join. Annual expenses would be around $3 million.

The utility says it would seek to recover costs through customer rates but noted any savings would reflect on monthly bills.

Casino Earnings Down 1.5% in 2Q

Atlantic City’s casinos saw their second quarter earnings decline by 1.5 percent compared to the second quarter of 2017.

Figures released Wednesday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show the casinos reported a gross operating profit of $154.6 million in the second quarter.

The biggest decline was seen at the Borgata, which saw its operating profit decline by 20.6 percent to just under $53 million.

The largest increase came at Resorts, whose profit was up nearly 64 percent to more than $9 million.

Gross operating profit reflects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and other charges and is a widely-accepted measure of profitability in the Atlantic City gambling industry.

Cubans Getting Early Taste of Mobile Internet in System Test

One of the world’s least-wired countries is getting a little more connected.

Cubans with cellphones are getting mobile access to the internet in a tentative but significant opening of communications on the communist-governed island.

The state telecommunications company made mobile internet available at no cost starting early Wednesday for what it described in an announcement as a test of the network that would run through the day.

It follows two previous tests that that the company says have connected 800,000 people to the internet.

Public access to the internet in Cuba was limited to tourist hotels until 2013. The government has since authorized Wi-Fi hotspots and cybercafes. The company has previously said all 5 million of its customers would have internet access this year.

TJX Reports Better-Than-Expected Sales, Profit in 2Q

The TJX Cos. (TJX) on Tuesday reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $739.6 million.

On a per-share basis, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company said it had profit of $1.17.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.05 per share.

The parent of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and other stores posted revenue of $9.33 billion in the period, also exceeding Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $9.03 billion.

Sales in stores open at least a year — a key metric of a retailer’s health — increased 6 percent, driven by strong customer traffic.

For the current quarter ending in November, TJX expects to earn $1.18 to $1.20 per share. That includes a benefit of 18 cents per share related to the tax overhaul. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had forecast adjusted earnings per share of $1.24. Excluding the tax benefit, TJX expects its per-share earnings to range from $1 to $1.02.

The company raised its full-year forecast and now expects earnings per share in the range of $4.83 to $4.88. Excluding benefits related to the tax overhaul, the retailer expects annual profit of $4.10 to $4.14 per share.

TJX shares have increased 33 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has increased almost 7 percent. The stock has climbed 44 percent in the last 12 months.

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