Quick read: Top business news for Wednesday March 1, 2017

A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan on Dec. 28

Wall St set to resume record rally amid rate hike talkNEW YORK – U.S. stocks looked set to resume their record-setting rally on Wednesday as a more measured tone in President Donald Trump’s speech reassured investors, while bank stocks gained on higher chances of an interest rate hike this month. In his first address to a joint session of Congress late Tuesday, Trump said he wanted to boost the U.S. economy with a “massive” tax relief, make a $1 trillion effort on infrastructure and overhaul Obamacare. His comments, though lacking in detail, helped underscore his pro-growth stance that has pushed Wall Street to record highs in a post-election rally. However, the markets were more focused on comments on Tuesday from a handful of Federal Reserve officials, including the influential New York Fed President William Dudley, who said the case for tightening monetary policy had become “a lot more compelling.” Duke University raises undergraduate tuitionDURHAM – The Duke University Board of Trustees approved a 3.9 percent increase in the total cost of attending the university for undergraduates during the 2017-18 academic year. Undergraduate tuition in 2017-18 will be $51,720, a 4.3 percent increase, and the total cost for the next academic year, including tuition, room, board and fees, will be $68,298. The trustees also approved a new master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Data Science. According to the university, half of all Duke students receive some form of financial assistance from the university. More than 40 percent of Duke undergraduates receive need-based financial aid, which includes grants, loans and work-study opportunities, and the remainder are beneficiaries of honors, athletics and other scholarship programs.January sees a jump in beach real estateWILMINGTON – Brunswick County realtors say they saw a nearly 30 percent jump in home sales in January. The Brunswick County Association of Realtors says that 242 home sold in the county in January 2017 compared to 118 homes in January 2016. The average home price also jumped by more than 15 percent, currently at a county average of $240,000 for January. According to Cape Fear Realtors Wilmington home sales also hit a historic high in January increasing by nearly 41 percent.Charter schools group names new leaderRALEIGH — The North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools, the state’s unified charter school support organization, announces charter school co-founder Rhonda Dillingham as its new executive director. Dillingham co-founded Uwharrie Charter School in Asheboro and has been an educator for 20 years. Dillingham will begin her duties on March 10, 2017.J.C. Penney to close 140 storesPLANO, TX – Retailer J.C. Penney announced this week that it will close up to 140 stores and offer buyouts to 6,000 employees. The store says that the closures amount to approximately 14 percent of its stores and was a necessary correction as more of their business moves online and discount stores cut into their brick-and-mortar store traffic. A complete list of the stores that will close is due out in mid-March. The announcement follows similar ones from Macy’s and Sears who announced earlier this year that they will cut stores to streamline their properties.