Business Briefs – June 9, 2016

Rising Home Prices Lift U.S. Wealth, Even as Stocks Fall

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans’ household wealth rose in the first three months of this year as home values increased, offsetting a drop in stock prices.

The Federal Reserve said Thursday that U.S. household net worth increased 1 percent to $88.1 trillion in the first quarter. Americans’ stock and mutual fund portfolios shrank $160 billion, while home values jumped $498 billion. Savings in certificates of deposit and other bank accounts also rose. The rise in real estate values likely means the wealth increase was more widely shared than in many previous quarters, because home ownership is the primary source of middle-class wealth. Richer Americans rely more on financial assets.

Fewer Americans Applied for Jobless Benefits Last Week

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign that employers are hanging on to workers despite a sluggish economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid fell by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped by 7,500 to 269,500.

Weekly jobless claims have come in below the historically low level of 300,000 for 66 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 1973.

Lenovo, Google Unveil Phone That Knows Its Way Around a Room

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Lenovo smartphone unveiled Thursday will be clever enough to grasp your physical surroundings — such as the room’s size and the presence of other people — and potentially transform how we interact with e-commerce, education and gaming.

Today’s smartphones track location through GPS and cell towers, but that does little more than tell apps where you are. Tapping Google’s 3-year-old Project Tango , the new Phab2 Pro phone will use software and sensors to track motions and map building interiors, including the location of doors and windows.

That’s a crucial step in the promising new frontier in “augmented reality,” or the digital projection of lifelike images and data into a real-life environment.