Home resales soared 8.7 percent to a record last month while slumping demand for aircraft pulled down orders to U.S. factories for the third time in five months.
The two reports today, one on home resales from the National Association of Realtors and the other on factory orders from the Commerce Department, illustrate the conflicting impact on the United States of Asia's financial crisis.
Orders for durable goods, items from appliances to airplanes expected to last three or more years, decreased 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted $184 billion. The drop reflected recessionary conditions in Asia, a big market for American passenger jets.
The February decline in overall durable goods orders followed a 1.5 percent increase in January, a partial recovery from a 5.3 percent plunge in December, the worst showing in six years.
In February, civilian aircraft orders plunged 34.2 percent, more than offsetting a gain in automobile demand. Transportation orders overall fell 8.5 percent.
However, the onset of the Asian crisis last fall invigorated an already brisk housing market when skittish investors pulled out of Asia and snapped up U.S. securities, pushing mortgage rates to 7 percent.
That helped boost sales of existing homes to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million units in February, the highest since the Realtors began tracking sales in 1968.
By region, sales rose 10.7 percent in the South to an annual rate of 1.86 million units, 8.3 percent in the Midwest to 1.18 million, 7.4 percent in the West to 1.02 million, and 4.6 percent in the Northeast to 680,000.
OPEC plans talks on cutbacks
LONDON (AP) -- OPEC said today it will hold emergency talks next week to discuss cuts in oil production that are intended to boost the depressed market.
Traders have been unconvinced OPEC and some non-OPEC nations that include Mexico and Oman can deliver on promises to cut up to 2 million barrels of crude output daily.
The pledges by individual oil exporters have come to just a little more than half that amount, and experts say it remains questionable whether each country will actually cut as much as it says.
Prices had fallen more than 50 cents a barrel Tuesday, giving up much of the gains oil had shown Monday as producer after producer announced planned production cuts.
Railroad to halt southbound traffic
CHICAGO (Reuters) -- Troubled Union Pacific Railroad on Tuesday announced an emergency embargo on most southbound traffic destined for Laredo, Texas, to clear up a backlog of more than 5,000 rail cars waiting to move into Mexico and stretching as far north as Kansas.
The embargo, which starts Saturday and will affect about 200 cars per day bound for Laredo, drew criticism from the grain industry and prompted a railroad analyst to warn that if the backlog is not corrected soon, the delays could threaten the U.S. economy.
In addition to grains, chemicals, industrial products and coal will be affected by the embargo, the railroad said in a statement. Combined, they comprise less than 2 percent of Union Pacific's revenue, the company said.
Breitwieser moves to new facility
Breitwieser Printing Co. moved its two largest presses into a new location at 1233 Main St. Tuesday, as the 50 year-old company fights to rebound from a Feb. 28 fire.
"It really wasn't the way we envisioned celebrating our 50th anniversary in business," president James B. Breitwieser said.
Arson was responsible for the fire at the company's former location in Buffalo's Broadway Industrial Park, causing about $1 million in damage, the company said.
Founded in 1948, the printing company is owned by brothers James and Frank Breitwieser. The company, with nine employees and annual sales of about $550,000, specializes in offset and letterpress printing for commercial customers.
Yield declines on 2-year T-notes
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Yields on two-year Treasury notes fell in Tuesday's auction to the lowest level in two months.
The high yield was 5.500 percent, down from 5.537 percent at the last auction on Feb. 24.
The notes will carry a coupon interest rate of 5 1/2 percent with each $10,000 in face value selling for $10,000.