Fed signals worst of recession over
The economy's sharp slide eased in the late spring and hopes for future business activity improved, suggesting that the worst of the recession has passed. A Federal Reserve snapshot of economic conditions issued Wednesday found that five of the Fed's 12 regions, including the region that covers Florida, said the "downward trend is showing signs of moderating." Altogether the assessments of businesses on the front lines of the economy appeared to be slightly better than those they provided in the previous report issued in mid April. Known as the Beige Book, the Fed survey is consistent with observations made by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the recession — which started in December 2007 and is now the longest since World War II — is loosening its grip.
Tampa home sales best in two years
Tampa area homeowners sold 1,440 homes in May, the highest total in nearly two years, the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors said. May's sales represented a 9.4 percent improvement over the 1,316 homes that sold in May 2008. The last time so many homes changed hands was in June 2007. Price is another matter. From year to year, the average sales price cratered by 32.5 percent from $244,977 to $165,425. Foreclosure sales accounted for the steepness of the drop. The inventory of unsold homes continues to shrink. Realtors reported 15,273 listings in and around Hillsborough County in May. The peak was 20,942 listings in October 2007. For the latest on the area housing market, read staff writer James Thorner's (Un)Real Estate blog at blogs.tampabay.com/realestate.
Home Depot looking up
Home Depot Inc. said Wednesday that its full-year earnings from continuing operations may come in better than previously forecast, thanks to a one-two combination of an improving housing market and strong sales in May. The move by the nation's largest home improvement chain came weeks after smaller rival Lowe's Cos. raised its full-year outlook after reporting its first-quarter results in mid May.
Deficit closes in on $1T
The federal budget deficit jumps to a record for May of $189.7 billion, pushing the tide of red ink close to $1 trillion with four months left in budget year. Business, 6B
All eyes on exec pay
The Obama administration names a "special master" with power to reject pay plans at the seven companies drawing billions in public bailout cash. Nation, 2A