New home sales surged in March

WASHINGTON — Sales of new homes surged 20.7% in March to the highest level since 2006, rebounding from a sharp decline the previous month when severe winter storms wreaked havoc in many parts of the country. Sales climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million last month after a 16.2% tumble in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was the fastest pace for new home sales since the housing boom of the mid-2000s when sales reached 1.04 million units in August 2006. The median sales price of a new home sold in March was $330,800, up only 0.8% from the median sales price a year ago.

Stocks rise

NEW YORK — Stocks closed out a choppy week of trading with a broad rally, though the gains were not enough to keep the S&P 500 from its first weekly loss in the last five. The benchmark index rose 1.1% Friday, clawing back all of its losses from a day earlier. It posted a 0.1% loss for the week. The gains were shared broadly by nearly every sector in the index. Technology companies accounted for a big slice of the rally, along with banks, communication stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending. The utilities and consumer staples sectors closed slightly lower. Treasury yields inched higher.

AmEx sees drop in revenue as pandemic slows travel, dining

NEW YORK — American Express Co. saw its first-quarter profits rise sharply, but the company saw a significant drop in revenue as fewer customers used their credit cards and those with balances paid down debt. The New York-based company said it earned a profit of $2.24 billion, or $2.74 a share, compared with a profit of $367 million, or 41 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. This quarter’s results included a one-time $675 million benefit from AmEx’s loan-loss reserves. Like other financial companies, AmEx set aside funds to cover potentially bad loans in the pandemic, but as the economy has improved, those funds are coming out of those rainy day funds and returned to shareholders.

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