US home sales decline
Sales of new US homes edged lower last month after a strong rise the prior month, according to US Department of Commerce data released on Tuesday. New sales for single-family homes hit a seasonally-adjusted 464,000 last month, down 2.1 percent from the revised October count of 474,000, the data showed. Last month’s sales rose 16.6 percent compared with a year ago. The median sales price of new houses for last month was US$270,900, while the average price was US$340,300, a record.
King expresses sympathy
King Juan Carlos has used his annual Christmas address to the nation to express sympathy for millions of Spaniards who have lost their jobs amid the nation’s economic crisis and have little relief in sight. The 75-year-old monarch said on Tuesday night that a big effort is needed to jump-start the economy because “we cannot accept as normal the anguish of the millions of Spaniards who do not have work.” The nation has an unemployment rate of 26 percent, and joblessness is more than twice that for Spaniards under age 25.
BP injury argument rejected
A federal judge has rejected BP’s argument that a multibillion-dollar settlement over the company’s massive 2010 Gulf oil spill should not compensate businesses if they cannot directly trace their losses to the spill. US District Judge Carl Barbier said in a ruling on Tuesday that the settlement was designed to avoid the delays that would result from a “claim-by-claim analysis” of whether each claim can be traced to the spill.
BlackBerry founder divests
BlackBerry co-founder Michael Lazaridis has trimmed his stake in the troubled smartphone pioneer to just below 5 percent after selling 3.5 million shares. The sales disclosed in a Tuesday regulatory filing came after BlackBerry Ltd announced a third-quarter loss of US$4.4 billion last week. The setback marked the latest sign of the company’s deepening distress as BlackBerry’s products fall further behind the iPhone and devices running on Android software.Lazaridis previously owned a 5.7 percent stake in the Waterloo, Ontario, company that he once ran.
Twitter shares surge
Twitter Inc, the microblogging service that held its initial public offering last month, rose to a record for a third trading day amid optimism that the company has room to expand sales in digital advertising. Twitter jumped 8.4 percent to US$69.96 at the close in New York after rising 7.5 percent on Tuesday. The stock has surged 169 percent since going public at US$26 on Nov. 6, giving Twitter a market value of almost US$40 billion. — larger than Time Warner Cable Inc, media company Viacom Inc and retailer Target Corp.
Tax to be eliminated
The government is eliminating a four-year-old tax on the issuance of depositary receipts in international markets, Interim Deputy Finance Minister Dyogo Oliveira said on Tuesday.
The 1.5 percent tax on the conversion of local shares into depositary receipts dates from November 2009. It was an attempt to balance out a levy on foreign investments in local stocks that has since been abolished, Oliveira said.