Economy Briefs

HOME SALES

Uptick in first-time buyers doesn’t help sales

Fewer people purchased previously occupied homes in April, a troubling sign that the weak housing market remains a drag on the economy.

Sales fell 0.8 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million units, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That is far fewer than the 6 million homes a year economists say represents a healthy market.

Purchases made by first-time homebuyers did increase, but not nearly enough to signal that a housing recovery is on the way.

First-time buyers are critical because they typically improve their properties and invest in their communities, a combination that helps home values rise.

AIRLINES

Delta and Air France to cut Europe flights

Delta Air Lines, Air France-KLM and Alitalia will sharply reduce flights across the Atlantic starting this fall, after airlines added too much flying on those routes just as fuel prices shot up.

The change will leave travelers between the U.S. and Europe with fewer choices. Delta began adding more trans-Atlantic flying toward the end of 2010. In November, it announced new flights from Boston and Miami to London, as well as additional flights from New York to Paris and Seattle to Amsterdam, among others.

Delta and its partners said they will cut flying capacity by 7 percent to 9 percent starting this fall. The reduction means the amount of flying they do will drop about 15 percentage points compared with the growth they had planned, Delta President Edward Bastian said Thursday.

TECHNOLOGY

Amazon: E-book sales surpass printed books

NEW YORK — Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday that, after less than four years of selling electronic books, it’s now selling more of them than printed books.

The online retailer said that since April 1, it has sold 105 e-books for every 100 printed books, including printed books for which there is no electronic edition.

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