New home sales
drop for month
Americans cut back sharply in July on their purchases of new homes, a sign that higher mortgage rates might slow the housing recovery.
U.S. sales of newly built homes dropped 13.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 394,000, the Commerce Department said Friday. That’s the lowest in nine months. And sales fell from a rate of 455,000 in June, which was revised down from a previously reported 497,000.
The housing rebound that began last year has helped drive economic growth and create more construction jobs. But mortgage rates have climbed a full percentage point since May. The increase has begun to steal some momentum from the market.
Sales of new homes are still up 7 percent in the 12 months ending in July. Yet the annual pace remains well below the 700,000 that is consistent with a healthy market.
focus of probe
U.S. auto safety regulators are investigating complaints that the ceilings can catch fire in 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.
The probe, announced Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, covers an estimated 146,000 of the popular sport utility vehicles.
Three customers complained to the government that their ceilings caught fire near the passenger-side sun visor while they were driving.
In all three cases, the fires continued after the SUVs had been shut off, and flames had to be put out with fire extinguishers or by firefighters. The flames caused a sunroof to shatter in one instance, while in another, a burning sun visor fell onto the passenger seat and spread the flames, NHTSA said. The safety agency said it had no reports of any injuries.
Investigators will decide if the problem is serious enough to warrant a recall.
GM changes heart
on Super Bowl ads
General Motors Co. is bringing its ads back to football’s biggest game.
The automaker says its Chevrolet brand is returning to next year’s Super Bowl because the game falls in the middle of several new model introductions.
GM announced in May of 2012 that it was walking away from this year’s National Football League championship game, saying a price increase from the CBS network was too steep. At the time, the automaker said it couldn’t justify spending well over $4 million for 30-second TV spot.
Later the company dismissed the marketing director who made the decision, largely related to a huge advertising contract with Manchester United, the British soccer club.
On Friday, however, GM announced that it had reversed course, saying that the Feb. 2 game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., comes as the Chevrolet brand is rolling out a dozen new models.