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U.S. home prices post 6.2% annual gain

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    As the spring home-buying season begins, house shoppers are facing higher prices and fierce competition for a limited inventory of available homes.

WASHINGTON >> U.S. home prices posted another big gain in January, pushed higher by a shortage of homes for sale.

Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index climbed 6.2 percent in January from a year earlier. That nearly matches December’s 6.3 percent gain, which had been the fastest 12-month growth in almost three years. The January increase was in line with economists’ expectations.

“The home price surge continues,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

As the spring home-buying season begins, house shoppers are facing higher prices and fierce competition for a limited inventory of available homes. But a strong job market has given American consumers, including an influx of younger millennials, the confidence to shop for homes anyway.

Louisiana rejects minimum wage hike

BATON ROUGE, La. >> Louisiana won’t be joining 29 other states in paying a minimum wage higher than the federally set rate, as Gov. John Bel Edwards saw one of his signature legislative efforts fail for a third year in a row.

The Senate on Tuesday refused to hike the rate from the $7.25-per-hour federal level to $8 per hour in 2019 and $8.50 a year later.

Seventeen senators voted for the bill by New Orleans Sen. Troy Carter, a Democrat. Twenty-one senators opposed it.

No one spoke against the proposal during the evening debate, but the measure was opposed by business groups that say it could force them to shrink their workforces or discourage expansions.

New iPad launched to catch up with Google

CHICAGO >> Apple unveiled a new iPad aimed at classrooms on Tuesday, along with other education tools, in a bid to catch up to Google for students’ attention — and win more school districts’ dollars.

The new 9.7-inch iPad includes a faster processor, Apple said, and supports Apple Pencil, a stylus that previously paired with just its more expensive iPads. The device costs $299 for schools and $329 for consumers, the same price as its previous version, and the Apple Pencil was priced at $89 for schools. The company also increased the amount of cloud storage for students to 200 gigabytes from 5 gigabytes.

In addition, Apple announced new software for the classroom: Schoolwork, an app for teachers to create and track assignments, and updates to its productivity apps for education. The curriculum called Everyone Can Create helps teach students skills in music, video, photography and art.


First Hawaiian Bank has announced the following new vice president:

>> Patty Van Kuran has joined First Hawaiian Bank as its new vice president and private banking loan officer for the Mortgage Banking Department. Van Kuran has 13 years’ experience in the banking industry and will assist the bank’s private banking clients with their residential real estate and mortgage needs.

>> Central Pacific Bank has promoted Isaac Okita to senior vice president and treasurer. He has 11 years’ experience in the financial industry as well as nine years of management experience, including previously having served as a vice president and treasury manager. Prior to joining CPB, Okita was a vice president and asset and liability manager for Bank of Hawaii.

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