Realtors: Existing Home Sales Close To An 8-Year High; BHP Reports Lower Profits

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Existing home sales are up and a major iron ore producer reported plunging profits and cut its steel outlook.

US Existing Home Sales Surge

US Home resales rose to a near 8-1/2-year high in July, Reuters reported.

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While other data on Thursday showed a slight increase in the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week, the trend remained consistent with strong labor market momentum.

The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales increased 2% to an annual rate of 5.59 million units last month, the highest pace since February 2007.

Demand for housing is being boosted by a strengthening labor market. But supply remains tight, pushing up home prices and sidelining first-time buyers, who are a key part of a strong housing market. The share of first-time buyers fell to a six-month low of 28% last month.

BHP Billiton Reports Profit Plunge, Cuts Outlook

BHP Billiton Ltd. reported full-year profit plunged 52% on tumbling commodity prices and cut its long-term forecasts for steel output in China, its largest customer.

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Underlying profit was $6.4 billion in the year ended June 30 from $13.3 billion a year earlier, the world’s biggest mining company said Tuesday in a statement. BHP will increase its dividend by 2.5 percent to $1.24 a share.

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