Economy

Steady buying and tight supplies pushed US home prices solidly higher in March, with the gains largest in the West, according to fresh data Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index showed prices for the leading 20 cities up 0.9 percent over February and up 5.4 percent year-on-year.

The pace of gains appeared to be moderating from a pickup late last year, though not in markets like Seattle, Portland and Denver, where one-year rises advanced at least 10 percent, and San Francisco and Dallas, where the one-year gain was 8.5 percent.

Twelve-month gains were weakest in New York, Washington and Chicago.

“The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates,” said David Blitzer of S&P Dow Jones Indices.

He said another factor was the limited supply of homes on the market, even as new home construction picks up.

“The number of homes currently on the market is less than two percent of the number of households in the US, the lowest percentage seen since the mid-1980s,” Blitzer said in a statement.

US consumers reopened their wallets in April after holding tight in the first quarter, with spending registering the largest one-month jump in seven years, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.Consumer spending rose 1.0 percent over March, or $119….

Belgium faced growing disruption on Tuesday after public sector staff halted work in protest at the centre-right government’s austerity plans, adding to ongoing strikes on the rail system and in prisons.Thousands of trade union members took part in pea…

French firm Technip has signed a preliminary contract worth more than $500 million (557 million euros) to rebuild a major oil drilling platform off the coast of Libya, officials said Tuesday. Technip signed the letter of intention in Paris with Mellita…

A South Korean appeals court ruled on Tuesday that a contested merger between two Samsung Group affiliates last year had short-changed minority shareholders, and said they should receive a bigger payout.

The Seoul High Court decision overturned a lower court ruling that had dismissed the shareholders’ suit against the giant South Korean conglomerate.

The merger last July saw Samsung’s de facto holding company, Cheil Industries, take over construction firm Samsung C&T in an all-stock deal worth an estimated $8.0 billion.

The merger had been passionately opposed by a significant number of C&T investors, rallied by US hedge fund Elliott Associates — the company’s second-largest single shareholder.

Elliott had argued that the takeover wilfully undervalued the C&T share price, at an unacceptable cost to its shareholders.

The High Court ruled that five shareholders who sued C&T for more money should be offered 66,602 won ($55.92) for each C&T share they held before the merger, compared with 57,234 won offered last year.

“The court’s decision is inconsistent with the decisions in other related cases,” Samsung said in a statement.

“After a thorough review of the court’s rulings, we plan to file an appeal with the Supreme Court,” it said.

Last year’s merger was seen as crucial step for Samsung’s founding Lee family in its effort to consolidate control of the giant, multi-headed conglomerate, ahead of a generational transfer of power from ailing patriarch Lee Kun-Hee.

Although the anti-merger camp lost the final vote, its muscular campaign marked a watershed moment for shareholder activism in South Korea — where family-run conglomerates, or “chaebol,” dominate the economy and are accustomed to run their businesses with minimum investor interference.

Unemployment in Germany fell to a new low in May as the recovery in Europe’s biggest economy continues, data showed on Tuesday.The unemployment rate — which measures the jobless total against the working population as a whole — fell to 6.1 percent in…

Growth of loans to the private sector in the euro area picked up slightly in April, European Central Bank data showed on Tuesday. For the ECB, the statistics are a key indicator of the economic health of the single currency area, as borrowing is a main…

Chinese aviation and tourism giant HNA is buying a 13 percent stake in Virgin Australia, the airline said Tuesday, just a week after the Hainan company scooped up part of Portuguese national airline TAP.HNA, led by Chinese billionaire Chen Feng and bes…

Embattled German auto giant Volkswagen said Tuesday that both sales and profits fell in the first three months of the year but it is sticking to its full-year targets.VW, currently engulfed in a massive emissions-cheating scandal, said in a statement t…

The government of Brazil’s acting president Michel Temer took a fresh hit on Monday as the anti-corruption minister resigned after a recording revealed him criticizing a probe into graft at state oil giant Petrobras, officials said.Fabiano Silveira was…

Julio Ribas suffers from high blood pressure. If only Venezuela’s currency were as high, he might be able to afford some medicine for it.Venezuela is short of drugs, and to buy some from abroad, Ribas needs dollars — but those are in desperately short…