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….

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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.

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