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Briefly

Metro Sales rewarding workers

RICHFIELD — Fairmont native Jerry Mathwig, founder and president of Metro Sales Inc., has announced the company is transitioning ownership to its 300 employees.

“The employees built the company with the help of our customers, and I wanted to further reward them for their contribution,” he said.

The stock option plan will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019. Mathwig will continue in his role as president and majority stock holder.

Metro Sales, Inc. corporate headquarters is in Richfield, with sales offices in Duluth, Hibbing, Mankato, Owatonna, Rochester and St. Cloud. There are outstate locations in Fargo, N.D., and Hudson, Wis.

Metro Sales, Inc. has grown to be one of the top Ricoh copier/printer dealerships in the United States, recognized for excellence and service.

New-home sales slipped 0.4%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of newly built homes fell 0.4% in December, cooling slightly after low mortgage rates fueled gains for much of 2019.

The Commerce Department said Monday that new single-family houses sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694,000 last month. But for all of 2019, sales climbed 10.3% to 681,000, the highest total since 2007 when 776,000 new homes were sold as the housing bubble was beginning to deflate ahead of the Great Recession.

Last year’s gains were driven entirely by new homes purchased in the South and West. Sales of new homes slumped in the Northeast and Midwest in 2019.

Lower mortgage rates began to boost real estate sales relative to 2018. December’s median new-home sales price was $331,400, up 0.5% from a year ago.

Greece plans 15-year bond issue

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece says it plans to issue a 15-year bond, tapping international markets for financing after the country’s sovereign credit rating was upgraded.

The Public Debt Management Agency, in a statement on Monday named five banks that would be involved in the auction, which is expected as soon as today.

Late Friday, Fitch ratings agency raised Greece’s credit rating by one notch to BB with a positive outlook, citing improved debt sustainability and a “stable political backdrop.”

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