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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Home construction improves, retirement fears grow, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
Empty parcels of land sit next to a new housing development in Mesa, Ariz., on March 6.
Empty parcels of land sit next to a new housing development in Mesa, Ariz., on March 6. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

1. HOME CONSTRUCTION CLIMBS
Despite a dip in home-builder confidence, construction of new homes picked up pace in February and building permits jumped to the highest level in nearly five years, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday. The data added to recent signs that the housing market is bouncing back and boosting the economy as home prices stabilize and unemployment falls. "Housing continues to be a bright spot for the economy," says economist Anika Khan of Wells Fargo Securities, "and this is a good report." CoreLogic says that, thanks to rising prices, 200,000 once-underwater homeowners regained some equity in their homes again last year. [Bloomberg, Reuters]
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2. CYPRUS READY TO REJECT BAILOUT TERMS
Cyprus' government proposed sparing small accounts from a divisive tax on bank deposits in an effort to save the proposal from defeat in a parliamentary vote scheduled for Tuesday. The one-time levy of up to 10 percent (on accounts over $130,000) is intended to help finance a $13 billion European bailout plan, which President Nicos Anastasiades says the country needs to avoid a banking collapse. Anastasiades has twice delayed a vote as he tried to make the rescue plan more palatable, but he says it still appears headed for defeat. Angry depositors have been lining up at ATMs trying to withdraw their money before the tax can be imposed. [Reuters]
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3. WASHINGTON POST ANNOUNCES FIREWALL
The Washington Post is following the lead of other leading newspapers, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, with a plan to start charging non-subscribers for access to its website. The newspaper said Monday that, starting this summer, it will ask people who read more than 20 articles a month to pay a fee. The Post did not reveal what its pricing plans will be, but an email survey it sent out to see what readers might pay for online content listed options ranging from $7.95 to $24.95 per month. [Washington Business Journal]
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4. MORE WORKERS THAN EVER FEAR RETIREMENT
Despite a slow economic recovery, more American workers than ever are afraid they won't have enough money in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual Retirement Confidence Survey, which was released Tuesday. The EBRI, a nonprofit focusing on employee-benefit issues, interviewed 1,254 people age 25 and older, and only 13 percent of them were "very confident" they'd be able to squirrel away enough to retire comfortably. Twenty-eight percent were "not at all confident." That's the highest level in the survey's history, and a big jump from the 10 percent who were that pessimistic in 2007. [MarketWatch]
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5. LULULEMON SINKS THANKS TO TOO-SHEER PANTS
Shares of Lululemon Athletica sank by 5 percent early Tuesday after the company, which makes athletic clothing for women, announced that it was recalling some of its black yoga pants because they were unintentionally see-through. "We want you to Down Dog and Crow with confidence and we felt these pants didn't measure up," Lululemon said in a statement. The recall involves the company's nylon and Lycra spandex Luon pants and cropped pants, about 17 percent of the company's pants. The shortage that will result in Lululemon's stores will shrink an expected sales increase in the first quarter of the year, the company said. [CNN]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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