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Stocks mixed...New home sales fall...Sears will close more stores

August 23, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting between gains and losses in early trading on Wall Street. Gains in the technology sector are being offset by losses in banks, packaged food makers and other companies. Energy stocks are falling along with the price of oil.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new U.S. homes slumped 1.7 percent in July, the second straight monthly decline. The Commerce Department says newly built homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627,000 last month, down from 638,000 in June and 654,000 in May. Higher mortgage rates and a tight inventory of homes on the market has made affordability a challenge for many would-be buyers. The average sales price has risen 5.8 percent from a year ago to $394,300.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Sears Holdings Corp. is closing another 13 Kmart stores and 33 Sears stores as sales shrink and losses grow. The ailing company says liquidation sales at the 46 unprofitable stores marked for closure will start Aug. 30, according to the company website. They’ll close in November. In January, Sears said it was closing 100 stores. It announced in May that it was closing another 100.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Senate Banking Committee has approved Kathy Kraninger to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with a 13-12 party-line vote. The approval comes despite protests from Senate Democrats who said President Donald Trump’s nominee is unqualified to lead the consumer watchdog. Kraninger is currently a mid-level executive in the White House’s budget office.

UNDATED (AP) — Tech companies want to protect U.S. political candidates from Russian hackers ahead of the midterm elections, but could that free help count as an illegal campaign contribution? That’s the question Microsoft asked the Federal Election Commission this week. The company is requesting the FEC’s advisory opinion to make sure Microsoft’s new free package of online account security protections for “election-sensitive” customers doesn’t count as in-kind campaign contributions. Microsoft says it’s offering its AccountGuard service on a nonpartisan basis to candidates, party committees and certain nonprofit groups.

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