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U.S. sales of new homes jumped 7.9% in January to the fastest pace in more than 12 years, a positive sign for economic growth. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 last month. That’s the highest sales rate since July 2007, shortly before the U.S. economy slumped into the Great Recession. Half of January’s sales gains came from people buying homes that have yet to be constructed, possible evidence that low mortgage rates may be driving their decisions to purchase. Borrowing costs for home loans have tumbled since 2018. But a shortage of properties on the market means that prices are also rising quickly. The median price of a new home surged 14% from a year ago to $348,200.
With less than 48 hours until the polls open on Saturday for the South Carolina Primary, several of the top candidates in the Democratic Party race on Thursday decided to leave the Palmetto State behind, and jump ahead to some of the 14 states which vote on Super Tuesday. Bernie Sanders was hitting two Super Tuesday states on Thursday, holding a late morning rally in Winston Salem, North Carolina, before going on to Richmond, Virginia, two states which vote next week. Sanders finishes Thursday with a rally at Wofford College in Spartanburg. Unlike the past few days on the stump in South Carolina, where Sanders has thrown elbows at Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden, Sanders in North Carolina instead focused his ire on President Donald Trump. 'I believe that Donald Trump is a hoax,' Sanders said, criticizing the President for his views on climate change. Along with Sanders, Elizabeth Warren was also taking a day off from the Palmetto State, as she had a rally in San Antonio. Part of Super Tuesday, Texas has not attracted a great deal of campaign attention until now, even though 228 delegates are at stake in the Lone Star State - more than the 155 delegates awarded from the first four contests combined in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. While both Warren and Sanders were going to return to South Carolina, the calculus was a bit different for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has now wrapped up her campaign in South Carolina, and moved on to Super Tuesday states. The Minnesota Democrat started her Thursday with a voting rights roundtable in Greensboro, North Carolina. 'As much as maybe the debates may have seemed like slugfests, I want to you to remember what an exciting time this is in our politics,' Klobuchar said. “Call your friends, tell them what you heard today,” Klobuchar said at a second event in the Tar Heel State. “It is not about the biggest bank account,” Klobuchar said of the campaign. “That's been shown time and time again.” Klobuchar will campaign Friday and Saturday in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee - all three states are on the docket for Super Tuesday. While Klobuchar, Warren, and Sanders spent time outside South Carolina, Tom Steyer, Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg were still doing campaign events in the Palmetto State on Thursday. The latest poll from Monmouth University showed a growing lead for Biden.
Adding another item to their election year list of grievances about President Donald Trump, the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination have stepped up their criticism of the White House response to the Coronavirus, arguing it is emblematic of what they charge is the President's haphazard method of governing. 'I am deeply concerned not just by the rise of cases of Coronavirus worldwide, but by the inadequate and incompetent response we have seen from Donald Trump and his administration,' said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 'He has done an absolutely terrible job of responding,' Tom Steyer said of the President at a campaign stop on Wednesday in Georgetown, South Carolina. 'He is incompetent,' added Steyer, as Democrats blasted the President for proposing cuts at the Centers for Disease Control. 'The Trump administration is absolutely bungling the response,' said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as she accused the President of 'putting our public health and our economy at risk.' In a CNN televised town hall on Wednesday night in Charleston, Mike Bloomberg joined in ridiculing the White House response. 'Number one, he fired the pandemic team two years ago,' Bloomberg said. 'Number two, he's been defunding Centers for Disease Control. So, we don't have the experts in place that we need.' The comments came as Bloomberg has already put up a campaign ad saying that he would be the perfect politician to handle such a crisis. In a separate CNN town hall, Joe Biden said the U.S. needs to challenge the Chinese more on how the government is handling the situation. 'I would not be taking China's word for it,' Biden said. “I just hope the President gets on the same page as the scientists.' Asked about the President putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the Coronavirus response, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said there might have been better choices. “I would think, usually, you might put a medical professional in charge,” Klobuchar said to laughter from the audience at a CNN town hall.