PODCAST: Housing sales are up, stock up on postage stamps

A girl rides her bicycle past new homes under construction and for sale in Alhambra, east of downtown Los Angeles on July 18, 2012 in California.

Change is afoot in the housing market. The Postal Service is hiking prices. A conversation with CEO of one of the world's largest cruise lines. And, the internet is essential to living, a court says so.

Data released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development show that new home sales fell by 7.3 percent last month. But despite the December dip, overall sales for 2012 were up to an estimated 367,000 homes -- the best numbers the U.S. has seen in three years.

Meanwhile, if you haven't already, there's still time to stock up on postage stamps. Starting Sunday, the cost of a U.S. Postal Service 'forever' stamp goes up a penny, to 46 cents. Other shipping fees rise also. But while the increased cost may be an inconvenience to consumers, that pile of pennies will add up to a whole lot for an agency deep in debt.

Also, we wrap our week of coverage from South Flordida, where Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson has been exploring the changing lives of the middle class, rich and poor. Miami is a major port for cruises. Once a luxury for the rich, cruise ships are bigger than ever and now offer packages accessible to the middle class. Royal Caribbean International president Adam Goldstein tells Jeremy demand is growing.

And the Internet is essential to living. A court says so. A German court made the ruling in the case of a man whose internet connection was down for 2 months. German law says people must be compensated for loss of what is essential to living. The court ruling says Internet access qualifies.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter for Marketplace and substitute host for the Marketplace Morning Report, based in New York.

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