Home construction climbs in April

WASHINGTON — U.S. home construction rose in April, led by an uptick in single-family homes.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that homebuilding rose 5.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.24 million. But housing starts fell 2.5% from a year earlier, suggesting that would-be home buyers are facing a shortage of new houses.

Construction of single-family homes increased 6.2% to 854,000 but was down 4.3% from a year earlier. Building of apartments and condominiums rose 2.3% to 359,000 and was up 1.4% from April 2018.

From March to April, housing starts surged 84.6% in the Northeast and 42% in the Midwest but fell 5.7% in the South and 5.5% in the West. The regional construction numbers can jump around from month to month.

Housing permits, an indicator of future activity, rose 0.6% to 1.3 million, the first uptick since December. Permits were down 5% from April 2018. Single-family home permits skidded 4.2% in April from March and were down 9.4% from a year earlier.

Buffett details $860M Amazon stake

OMAHA, Neb. — Investor Warren Buffett's company is offering the first details of its roughly $860 million stake in Amazon.

Buffett said earlier this month that another investment manager at Berkshire Hathaway had bought Amazon stock, but the company didn't reveal it held 483,300 Amazon shares until this week when it filed an update with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing shows Berkshire's U.S. stock holdings at the end of March, so Berkshire's holdings may have changed since then.

Throughout his career, Buffett avoided investing in technology companies because he said he couldn't reliably pick the winners, but he has said it made a mistake by not investing in Amazon years ago.

Berkshire owns more than 90 businesses including insurance, railroads, jewelry stores. And it holds major investments in American Express, Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo & Co.

US long-term mortgage rates fall

WASHINGTON — U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell slightly this week, marking a third straight week of declines as a continued inducement to purchasers in the spring homebuying season.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage eased to 4.07% from 4.10% last week. By contrast, a year ago the benchmark rate stood at 4.61%.

The average rate for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans declined this week to 3.53% from 3.57% last week.

Pinterest reports smaller 1Q loss

SAN FRANCISCO — Pinterest, fresh off its initial public offering, posted a loss for the first three months of the year that was larger than analysts were expecting, though revenue was slightly stronger. Its revenue forecast, though, was slightly below expectations and its shares slumped in after-hours trading.

The company, which runs a digital pinboard and shopping tool, said Thursday that its net loss was $41.4 million, or 33 cents per share, in the January-March period. Its revenue grew 54% to $202 million from $131 million. The quarter's adjusted loss was 32 cents per share.

Analysts had expected a loss of 11 cents per share on revenue of $200.7 million, according to FactSet.

People use Pinterest to search for and collect, or "pin," ideas for weddings, home decor, recipes, fashion and other categories. The service had 291 million monthly active users in the first quarter, up 22% from 239 million a year earlier.

Pinterest said it expects revenue in a range of $1.055 billion to $1.08 billion for the full year, the midpoint of which is slightly below the $1.07 billion that analysts had been expecting, even though the first quarter's sales surpassed estimates.

Cummins plans to expand in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — Engine maker Cummins Inc. is planning to spend at least $68 million on expanding operations at three Indiana locations.

Cummins executives made the announcement Thursday at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway event celebrating the Columbus-based company's 100th anniversary with Gov. Eric Holcomb and other officials.

Cummins says it will invest $33 million on its Columbus facilities, which includes upgrading and equipping its Columbus Engine Plant to support its new electrified power business unit. The company expects to add perhaps 75 workers there by late 2021.

It also plans on building a $35 million office building in Greenwood where about 500 digital and information technology staff would work. Cummins also will expand into more space at its downtown Indianapolis office building that opened in 2017 and occupy more office space nearby.

Wire reports

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