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Existing home sales unexpectedly rise in November

Existing home sales unexpectedly rise in November

U.S. home sales unexpectedly rose in November, but recorded their biggest annual decline in 7½ years, adding to other data that have painted a grim picture of the housing market.The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday existing home sales increased 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.32 million units last month. October’s sales pace was unrevised at 5.22 million units. Sales have now increased for two straight month.Economists polled by Reuters had forecast existing home sales falling 0.6 percent to a rate of 5.20 million units in November. Existing home sales, which make up about 90 percent of U.S. home sales, tumbled 7.0 percent from a year ago in November, the largest annual drop since May 2011.
Facebook imposters are trying to swindle users out of bitcoin

Facebook imposters are trying to swindle users out of bitcoin

Earlier this month, some Facebook users noticed something odd: bitcoin mining company Bitmain seemed to be posting in the comments of one of its posts, advertising some sort of “partnership” tied to bitcoin and requesting a cryptocurrency transfer. The post was suspicious; some wondered whether the company had been hacked.But the post wasn’t from Bitmain at all, the company explained in a follow-up comment on Facebook. Instead, a savvy imposter had set up a fake account, then commented on a legitimate thread from the company, attempting to draw users into sending bitcoin. “There are plenty of users creating fake accounts with our profile picture and inputting the same name as Bitmain,” the company wrote in a Facebook comment. “We always have these taken down but new ones always come out.” Users with pages like Bitmain’s rely on flagging content to Facebook and then waiting for the company to take it down. It’s not clear in this case how long the posts were visible. (Bitmain declined to comment.)
Cuomo Moves to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New York Within Months

Cuomo Moves to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New York Within Months

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would push to legalize recreational marijuana next year, a move that could generate more than $1.7 billion in sales annually and put New York in line with several neighboring states.The highly anticipated proposal came in a speech in Manhattan on Monday, in which the governor outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of his third term. Mr. Cuomo framed the speech as a reflection on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt — the former president who was once a New York governor himself — would do today, mixing sweeping rhetoric about American ideals with grim warnings about the Trump administration.
Williamson County approves $16 million incentive package for Apple

Williamson County approves $16 million incentive package for Apple

Williamson County leaders on Tuesday unanimously approved a taxpayer-funded incentive package for Apple that could be worth up to $16 million, solidifying the tech giant’s plan to invest $1 billion in a new campus in North Austin and add up to 5,000 jobs.In just 30 minutes, Williamson County commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the deal, which the county estimates could amount to about $16 million in reimbursements to Apple over the span of its 15-year term. Apple is also in line to get up to $25 million in incentives payments from the state-run Texas Enterprise Fund.
Amazon Runs Out of Some Echo Speakers the Week Before Christmas

Amazon Runs Out of Some Echo Speakers the Week Before Christmas

Shoppers hoping to get their hands on one of Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo smart speakers before Christmas may come away disappointed.Several of the e-commerce giant’s online stores in North America and Europe showed various models of the Alexa-powered line of gadgets temporarily out of stock on Monday, with shipment delayed to January or beyond in some places.The Echo is the flagship device in Amazon’s growing line of consumer electronics and a fixture of the company’s advertisements during the holiday shopping season.The company said it sold “millions” of Echo devices worldwide during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and Cyber Monday and that the hockey puck-shaped Echo Dot was the bestselling product on Amazon during that period.
Surf Life Saving Australia extends drone operations this summer

Surf Life Saving Australia extends drone operations this summer

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) and Westpac have teamed up to deploy 51 drones around Australia during the nation's beach-going months.The drones are intended to provide aerial vision and surveillance to help spot rips and swimmers in distress, and could in future drop buoyancy devices to swimmers, the pair said.Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) President Graham Ford said the drones will be "hugely beneficial"."There is no better time than now to welcome new technologies that can help us protect more Australians," he said.The drones will be located throughout the New South Wales and Queensland coasts; at St Kilda and Frankston in Victoria, as well as a mobile unit; Semaphore Beach and Christies Beach in South Australia; at Frederick Henry Bay in Tasmania; at Cottesloe, Fremantle, Meelup, Smiths Beach, Secret Harbour, City Beach, Trigg, and Mullaloo in Western Australia; and one unit in Darwin.
Home builder confidence hits 3½ year low as housing crunch worsens

Home builder confidence hits 3½ year low as housing crunch worsens

The December decline took the sentiment index to the lowest since May 2015 and missed the Econoday forecast of a one-point increase. It followed a breathtaking plunge from October to November and brought the full-year 2018 average for the index to 67, one point lower than 2017.In December, the index component measuring current sales conditions fell six points to 61, and the gauge of sales expectations over the next six months dropped four points, also to 61. The buyer traffic tracker fell two points to 43, its lowest level since March 2016. Any reading over 50 signals improvement.NAHB’s index is often seen as an early read on new-home construction and sales. Indeed, the November sentiment plunge was followed by a new-home sales report that was the lowest in nearly three years.
Foxconn not in settlement talks with Qualcomm in Apple battle: attorney

Foxconn not in settlement talks with Qualcomm in Apple battle: attorney

The conflict is but one aspect of the global legal battle between regulators, Apple and Qualcomm, which supplies modem chips that help phones connect to wireless data networks.Last week, Qualcomm secured a preliminary victory in a patent lawsuit in China that would have banned sales of some Apple iPhones there. Apple later said it believed it was already in compliance but would change its software “to address any possible concern” about its compliance.But Qualcomm was also handed a setback in an antitrust lawsuit brought against it by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission when a judge said it will not be able to mention that Apple ditched Qualcomm chips for competing ones from Intel Corp when the case goes to trial next month.
NYC Council grills Amazon over HQ2: ‘You’re worth $1 trillion. Why do you need our $3 billion?’

NYC Council grills Amazon over HQ2: ‘You’re worth $1 trillion. Why do you need our $3 billion?’

Amazon got a healthy dose of New York brashness Wednesday as city councilmembers grilled company executives and their economic development partners over the plan to build a 25,000-person office in Queens.Amazon’s appetite for incentives was a key concern raised by the Council, along with frustration over the bid’s lack of transparency and the bypassing of the traditional land-use process. Total incentives from New York City and the state could amount to $3 billion.“You’re worth a trillion dollars,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, citing the company’s massive market value. “Why do you need our 3 billion dollars when we have crumbling subways, crumbling public housing, people without healthcare, public schools that are overcrowded?
Cannabis Growers Embrace IOT for Energy Efficiency

Cannabis Growers Embrace IOT for Energy Efficiency

More U.S. cannabis cultivators are deploying internet-of-things (IOT) technologies in greenhouses to optimize the use of power, water and nutrients.“We're doing some cool work with indoor cannabis growers and consultants,” said Tim Guiterman, chief marketing officer at Massachusetts-based InfiSense, which provides IOT hardware, software and analytics. As competition ramps up between growers in states where cannabis has been legalized, he said, “there’s real pressure to optimize or die. It’s all about maximizing the yield per strain, based on whatever inputs are coming in.


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