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Biden names three to post office board

President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated three postal experts to the governing board of the U.S. Postal Service, a move that could alter the course of an agency grappling with delivery delays and rumored cuts under its embattled Republican leader.

If confirmed by the Senate, the Board of Governors nominees would bring additional Democratic scrutiny on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor whose tenure has been mired by slow service and politicization.

The nominees are Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, a mail voting advocate who leads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union. A White House announcement of the move came just after a long and sometimes tense congressional hearing with DeJoy about the agency's ailing financial health.

"President Biden is committed to the USPS' success, and these experienced and tested leaders will ensure the USPS is running at the highest of service standards and that it can effectively and efficiently serve all communities in our country," a White House statement read.

 

Fed chairman in no hurry to raise interest rates

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has told Congress that the central bank will not begin raising interest rates until it believes its goals on maximum employment and inflation have been reached.

Powell also warned Wednesday that many who had worked in industries hardest hit by the pandemic and ensuing recession will likely need to find different jobs. As he did before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Powell told the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed is in no hurry to raise its benchmark short-term interest rates or to begin trimming its $120 billion in monthly bond payments used to put downward pressure on longer-term rates.

Powell said the Fed does not see any indication inflation could race out of control. While price increases might accelerate in coming months, Powell said those increases are expected to be temporary and not a sign of long-run inflation threats.

He said the central bank would not start to trim its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases until "substantial further progress" has been made toward the Fed's goals on inflation and employment.

 

New home sales up 4.3% last month

Demand for new homes in the U.S. surged 4.3% in January as the housing market remains one of the strongest segments of the economy.

Last month's increase pushed sales of new homes to an adjusted annual rate of 923,000 the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That's much better than the 855,000 analysts were expecting. December's new home sales figure was also revised up from 842,000 to 885,000. The median price of a new home sold in January slipped 346,400 but is still up more than 5% from a year ago.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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