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New-home sales jump 15.6%

BY Ken Clark

Sales of new single-family houses in January 2013 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000, up 15.6% from the December rate.

The new-home sales figure, released jointly Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is the highest since July 2008, when new sales were at a pace of 477,000. 

The median sales price of new houses sold in January 2013 was $226,400, according to the government report. The average sales price was $286,300. 

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of January was 150,000. This represents a supply of 4.1 months at the current sales rate.

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Home Depot’s top merchant points to Q4 winners

BY Ken Clark

Home Depot’s Northern division, which bore the brunt of Superstorm Sandy late last year, saw comp-store generator sales up in the triple digits.

Storm-related sales were one of the reasons Home Depot’s fourth-quarter sales exceeded internal company expectations. Across the country, the departments that outperformed the company’s average comp for the fourth quarter were tools, lumber, electrical, outdoor garden, lighting, indoor garden and decor.

"We expect the impact of Sandy to continue at least through the first half of the year," said Craig Menear, the retailer’s executive VP merchandising.

Flooring, kitchens, bath, plumbing, hardware, paint and millwork performed positively in the fourth quarter, Menear said. And although comp sales in building materials were negative, they exceeded expectations, he said. 

"Across all U.S. divisions, the core of the store continues to maintain momentum with positive performance in our plumbing, hardware and paint departments and across maintenance and repair categories in spray paint, lubricants, light bulbs, chemicals, pipe and fittings, tape, plumbing repair and fasteners," Menear said, during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

Driven by generators and appliances, the company’s transactions for tickets over $900 were up 9.0%, he said. These transactions represent about 20% of the company’s U.S. sales.

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Recall announced for Ryobi battery pack

BY Ken Clark

The Ryobi Lithium 18 VAh Battery Pack is being recalled by importer One World Technologies of Anderson, S.C. 

The battery pack can overheat and burst while on a charger, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers, according to a release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The product was sold at The Home Depot stores nationwide and in Canada, online at Homedepot.com, and at other retailers from September 2012 to December 2012 for about $99. About 54,200 are in the United States and 2,200 in Canada.

This recall involves Ryobi brand, Lithium 18 V 4Ah battery packs, with model P108 and part number 130429028. 

One World Technologies has received four reports of battery packs overheating, resulting in minor property damage. No injuries have been reported. 

The product manufacturer is Techtronic Industries (Dongguan) Co. of China.

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