BUSINESS

BUSINESS NEWS AT A GLANCE

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

FOR STOCKS, AN AMAZINGLY GOOD YEAR

It was the market rally that defied gravity and left many with a case of vertigo. Despite turbulence in Washington, China and Europe, which threatened at several points to pull the world into another recession, stock prices just kept rising in 2013. The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index led the way, ending the year almost 30 percent higher than it began, or 32.4 percent higher with dividends counted in. The S&P 500 finished Tuesday at 1,848.36. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 16,576.66. It was up 26.5 percent for the year. The Nasdaq composite index was 4,176.59 — bringing its gains for the year to 38 percent.

HOUSE PRICES RISE AGAIN, BUT THE PACE COULD SLOW

It was a great year for the stock market. And it was also a pretty good year for many people’s biggest investment: their homes. In 2013’s last glimpse at the housing market, figures released Tuesday showed that home prices in major metro areas kept rising in October. Year over year, prices were up 13.6 percent, the biggest gain in more than seven years. Prices in 20 major metro areas increased a modest 0.2 percent between September and October, evidence that the quick rebound in prices is slowing, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller data. Higher mortgage rates might continue to slow the pace of improvement, analysts say.

PHILADELPHIA FORGES A PLAN TO REBUILD FROM ITS DECAY

An estimated 40,000 vacant, derelict or underused buildings and lots are candidates for Philadelphia’s new Land Bank, an ambitious program that is the latest effort to clear up blighted neighborhoods. Philadelphia, with a population of about 1.5 million, is the largest U.S. city to adopt a land bank, experts said, and could become a model for other cities like Detroit that have an even bigger problem with vacant property. While land banks have been around for several decades, including one in St. Louis that was set up in the 1970s, several dozen exist now, with newer versions emerging in places like Syracuse, N.Y., and Macon, Ga.

IN LATVIA, A NEW YEAR ALSO RINGS IN THE EURO

The euro not only survived 2013, it thrived. And, at the stroke of midnight in Eastern Europe on Tuesday, the currency even added a new member. Latvia is the 18th nation to adopt the euro. Now that the European economy has stabilized — and talk has quieted that Greece may leave and splinter the Europe’s currency union — the euro is actually appreciating in value. The euro rose 4.5 percent against the dollar in 2013, its best showing in years. The euro is now at 1.38 to the U.S. dollar. The tiny Baltic nation is the first to join the eurozone since neighboring Estonia in 2011.

U.S. SOLAR PANEL MAKER SEEKS TO CLOSE LOOPHOLE IN DUTIES ON CHINESE PRODUCTS

A major maker of solar panels opened another chapter in a long-simmering trade dispute Tuesday, asking the Commerce Department to impose new duties on imported modules made of certain components from China or Taiwan. The petition, brought by SolarWorld Industries America, is intended to close a loophole in the United States’ decision to impose duties on imported Chinese modules. Should the petition go forward, it could effectively block Chinese manufacturers from the U.S. market, said Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM Research, which tracks clean-tech industries.

CHINESE BUSINESSMAN SEEKING STAKE IN TIMES CO.

A wealthy Chinese businessman and philanthropist known for his zany public stunts said Tuesday that he was leading a group of investors seeking to acquire a large or controlling stake in The New York Times Co. Shares in the Times Co. jumped more than 4 percent to a five-year high Monday, shortly after the businessman, Chen Guangbiao, hinted at his plans in a speech in southern China. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, said in 2013 that the family that controls the paper was not interested in selling it. Recently, Chen said, he persuaded two businessmen to help him raise about $1 billion to snap up a large portion of the company.