- - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

HOUSING

Existing home sales up 4.3 percent in January

The housing market is flashing signs of health ahead of the spring-buying season.

Sales of previously occupied homes are at their highest level since May 2010. More first-time buyers are making purchases. And the supply of homes fell last month to its lowest point in nearly seven years, which could push home prices higher.

Sales have now risen nearly 13 percent over the past six months. While they are still well below the 6 million that economists equate with a healthy market, the gains have coincided with other changes in the market that suggest more sales are coming.

“The trend is clearly upward,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that resales increased 4.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million.

HEALTH CARE

Health overhaul grants awarded to 10 states

Federal officials say another 10 states are getting a total of $230 million to set up new health insurance markets under President Obama’s overhaul.

Seven of them - Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania - have either adopted a plan or are making substantial headway. But a recent Associated Press analysis found uneven progress among states setting up the new insurance exchanges, a linchpin of the law.

In two states announced Wednesday - Kentucky and Tennessee - it’s not clear whether policymakers will follow through. In Arkansas, officials concede that Washington will have to take the lead.

More than 30 states have received federal exchange establishment grants, but only 13, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted a plan. States have until Jan. 1, 2013.

BRIBERY

British man gets probation in Halliburton bribery case

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