The first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half century flew out of Fort Lauderdale for the central city of Santa Clara on Wednesday morning, re-establishing regular air service severed at the height of the Cold War. It opens a new era of U.S.-Cuba travel, with about 300 flights a week connecting the U.S. with an island cut off from most Americans by the 55-year-old trade embargo on Cuba and formal ban on U.S. citizens engaging in tourism on the island. Historians disagree on the exact date of the last commercial flight but it appears to have been after Cuba banned incoming flights during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes surged in July after two straight months of declines as demand rose almost across the board, suggesting the housing market remains on solid ground despite last month's drop in home resales. The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 1.3 percent to 111.3, the second highest reading in over a decade.