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Sales of new homes fell for a third straight month in June, dropping by 6.6%. to the lowest level in more than a year. The Commerce Department reported Monday that the June sales decline left sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000. That followed a 7.7% sales decline in May and a 10.1% fall in April. The June sales pace was down 19.4% from a year ago and was the slowest pace since April 2020. Housing has been a stand-out performer since the economy began emerging from the steep but short pandemic recession in April last year.

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With inflation uncomfortably high and the COVID-19 Delta variant raising economic concerns, a divided Federal Reserve will meet this week to discuss when and how it should dial back its ultra-low-interest rate policies. For now, the U.S. economy is growing briskly in the wake of the pandemic recession, and the pace of hiring is healthy, which is why the Fed’s policymakers will likely move closer toward acting soon. In particular, the officials are expected to discuss the timing and mechanics of slowing their $120 billion-a-month in bond purchases — a pandemic-era policy that is intended to keep long-term loan rates low to spur borrowing and spending.

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Asian shares have fallen as worries grow that a faster-spreading variant of the coronavirus could upend the global economic recovery. Benchmarks in Japan, South Korea, Australia and China declined in early trading. Worries about the pandemic continue in Japan, with three days to go before the Tokyo Olympics open. Several athletes and more than 60 non-athletes affiliated with the Games have tested positive. Just about 22% of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated. Wall Street indexes skidded, with airlines and other companies seen as most threatened from renewed pandemic restrictions. 

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It hit like derailed train, was hugely destructive but short-lived. The pandemic recession ended in April of 2020, making it the shortest downturn on record. That's according to the committee of economists that determines when recessions begin and end. A committee from National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the economy reached a peak in February 2020 and the recession began the following month. It ended in April. The NBER said the recession ended that month because that is when the economy reached its lowest point in terms of jobs and output. The economy began to recover in May.

Economy Recession

Economy Recession

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FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2020, file photo, a person passes the office of the California Employment Development Department in Sacramento, Calif. The recession that broke out with onset of the coronavirus pandemic officially ended in April 2021, making it the shortest downturn on record, according to the committee of economists that determines when recessions begin and end. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

With the U.S. economy humming, corporate profits flowing and stock prices peaking, investors on Wall Street are beginning to pose an anxious question: Is it all downhill from here? Financial markets are always trying to set prices now for where the economy and corporate profits are likely to be in the future. Even though readings across the economy are still at eye-popping levels, investors see some areas of concern. New variants of the coronavirus are threatening to weaken economies around the world. Inflation is raging as supplies of goods and components fall short of surging demand. And the beginning of the end of the Federal Reserve’s assistance for markets is coming into sight. 

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Worried about surging prices for everything from food and gas to airplane tickets and clothes? Well, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell had a straightforward message in two days of congressional hearings this week: Just give it more time, and those price gains should slow, or even reverse. Still, the Fed chair also acknowledged that the U.S. economy is engaged in an unprecedented reopening after the sharp pandemic recession, making it much harder to anticipate how things like inflation and unemployment will play out.