Business Briefs – December 30, 2018

Euro Currency Remains a Work In Progress on 20th Birthday

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – The euro is about to celebrate its 20th birthday, but the countries that use it are still wrestling with how the shared currency should work and how to fix flaws exposed by the debt crisis that marred its second decade.

The shared currency was seen as a solution to the constant quarrels over exchange rates that had marked European politics after World War II and as a logical extension of the European Union’s tariff-free trade zone. Britain, notably, opted out, but 19 of 28 EU countries use the euro.

North Korea’s ‘Singapore Shops’ Expose Gap in Sanctions Push

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) – Despite the unwanted publicity of a criminal trial for one of their main suppliers, business is booming at Pyongyang’s ‘Singapore shops.’ The stores stock many of the very things United Nations’ sanctions banning trade in luxury goods are intended to block and provide a nagging reminder that not all potential trade partners are lining up behind the U.N.’s pronouncements or the Trump administration’s policy of maximum pressure on the North.

U.S. Pending Home Sales Slipped 0.7 Percent in November

WASHINGTON (AP) – Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in November as higher mortgage rates and prices continued to squeeze would-be buyers out of the market.

The National Association of Realtors said Friday that its pending home sales index dipped 0.7 percent last month to 101.4. The index based on contract signings has dropped 7.7 percent over the past year and has recorded 11 straight year-over-year decreases.

EPA Proposes Easing Regulation Of Mercury From Coal Plants

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency is considering backing off of its regulation of toxic mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

In an announcement Friday, the EPA proposes what would be another Trump administration rollback of federal enforcement under the Clean Air Act. It’s the latest administration effort on behalf of the country’s coal industry.