Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2010 6:10 PM
Business Highlights


New home sales rise after dismal summer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sales of new homes improved last month after the worst summer in nearly five decades, but not enough to lift the struggling economy.

The Commerce Department says new home sales in September grew 6.6 percent from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 307,000. Even with the increase, the past five months have been the worst for new home sales on records dating back to 1963.


Durable goods orders rise, business spending cools

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A surge in demand for commercial aircraft lifted orders for big-ticket manufactured goods in September, but businesses spent less on products that would signal expansion.

The Commerce Department said orders for durable goods rose 3.3 percent last month. Overall, it was the best showing since January. But excluding transportation, orders fell 0.8 percent after having risen 1.9 percent in August.

Spending by companies on capital goods excluding aircraft dropped 0.6 percent after rising 4.8 percent in August. The category, which is viewed as a good proxy for business investment in the economy, has declined in two of the past three months.

The new report suggests manufacturing is moving forward but at a slower pace than earlier this year.


Stocks fall amid questions about Fed plan

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock prices fell Wednesday as concerns grew over whether the Federal Reserve's plans to buy Treasury bonds might be smaller and slower than anticipated.

Another day of mixed earnings and economic reports also dragged down the shares of companies outside of the technology industry. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 43 points. It had fallen nearly 150 points before paring much of its losses in the late afternoon.

Stocks had been rising in recent weeks due to a number of better-then-expected earnings reports and mounting expectations that the Fed would embark on another round of bond-buying to stimulate the economy.

Traders have been anticipating the Fed would buy between $500 billion and $1 trillion in Treasurys to drive interest rates lower and encourage lending and spending. A report in The Wall Street Journal said the Fed's bond purchases might amount to a few hundred billion dollars over several months, which would fall short of those predictions.


Procter & Gamble increasing sales with big brands, new products

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Procter & Gamble Co., which makes Pantene shampoo and Pampers diapers, said Wednesday that quarterly revenue grew nearly 2 percent on high volumes in its latest quarter, and forecast growing sales for the rest of the year. The consumer products company is slowly luring back budget-battered consumers to its big brands, while attracting new buyers around the globe by getting more products into emerging markets such as India and China.


ConocoPhillips 3Q earnings more than double

NEW YORK (AP) _ ConocoPhillips on Wednesday said earnings more than doubled for the third straight quarter as oil prices rebounded from their 2009 lows.

The Houston oil company is the first major integrated company to report income for the July-September period, and its hefty profit suggests that Big Oil will be able to shrug off expenses from the Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium and low natural gas prices. Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell will announce their quarterly earnings on Thursday. Chevron reports on Friday.

Integrated oil companies are involved in all phases of the business, from exploration and production to refining and marketing.


Whirlpool 3Q profit falls as U.S. demand falters

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Whirlpool Corp., the world's biggest appliance maker, said Wednesday that price competition pulled its third-quarter revenue and shipments down 3 percent in the U.S. and kept revenue nearly flat worldwide, compared with a year earlier.

The maker of Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Whirlpool and store-brand appliances saw demand rebound last winter with the arrival of federal rebates on energy-efficient appliances. And it still expects U.S. shipments to rise 3 percent overall for the year.

The company's third-quarter earnings fell 9 percent as it tried to keep pace with rivals such as LG and Samsung.


China official says dollar printing causing inflation

SHANGHAI (AP) _ Out-of-control printing of the U.S. dollar is forcing inflation on China, pushing up prices for commodities and labor, trade minister Chen Deming says in an escalation of rhetoric over currency and other tensions ahead of key international meetings.

Beijing has been chafing at U.S. pressure over its currency and massive imbalances in trade and investment that are symptomatic of deeper problems in the world economy _ Asia and China's addiction to weak currencies to boost their export-reliant economies and the legacy of debt-fueled consumption in the U.S.

Fearing a trade war that could send the world economy into reverse, finance chiefs from the Group of 20 leading advanced and developed nations last weekend vowed to avoid weakening their currencies. But they did not set specific targets for reducing imbalances such as China's huge trade surplus and the U.S. trade deficit.


Wells Fargo admits mistakes in 55K foreclosures

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Wells Fargo & Co. said it made mistakes in 55,000 foreclosure cases and promises to fix them.

The San Francisco-based company says it is plans to refile the documents by mid-November. The company describes the mistakes as technical and says it sees no need to halt the foreclosure process.

A spokeswoman said the bank doesn't believe that there are instances in which the foreclosures would not have occurred.

The documents are being refiled in the 23 states where a judge's approval is needed to complete a foreclosure.


European airlines say US security goes overboard

LONDON (AP) _ European air officials accused the United States of imposing useless and overly intrusive travel security measures, calling Wednesday for the Obama administration to reexamine policies ranging from online security checks to X-raying shoes.

British Airways' chairman made the first in a wave of complaints, saying in a speech to airport operators that removing shoes and taking laptops out of bags were "completely redundant" measures demanded by the U.S.

He was joined less than 24 hours later by British pilots, the owner of Heathrow airport, other European airlines, and the European Union. The EU submitted formal objections to a program that requires U.S.-bound travelers from 35 nations to complete online security clearance before departure. It called the system burdensome and said it could violate travelers' privacy.


NJ governor says he's standing by decision to scrap tunnel

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Gov. Chris Christie cited New Jersey's lack of money Wednesday in standing by his decision to kill a train tunnel connecting his state to New York City, a move that will force the state to repay up to $350 million it was given to start the nation's biggest public works project.

Christie, a rising star in the Republican Party for his fearless budget-slashing, has argued that his cash-strapped state can't afford to pay for any overruns on the $9 billion-plus rail tunnel under the Hudson River. The state is on the hook for $2.7 billion plus overruns.

"In the end, my decision does not change," Christie said. "I cannot place upon the citizens of New Jersey an open-ended letter of credit, and that's what this project represents."

The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were each set to contribute $3 billion to the project, dubbed ARC for "Access to the Region's Core."

Now, New Jersey is likely to have to repay the federal government $350 million of the $600 million already spent getting the project started. It's also likely New York City will make a bid for the $3 billion in committed Port Authority funds to help complete the city's Second Avenue subway and rail access to Grand Central Station from Long Island.

By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 43.18, or 0.4 percent, to 11,126.28, despite trading as much as 150 points lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.19, or 0.3 percent, to 1,182.45. The technology-focused Nasdaq composite index was the only broad market index to rise, gaining 5.97, or 0.2 percent, to 2,503.26.

Benchmark crude for December delivery fell 61 cents to settle at $81.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil slipped 1.17 cents to close at $2.2383 a gallon and gasoline rose 0.80 cent to $2.1020 a gallon. Natural gas lost 6.2 cents to close at $3.292 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wednesday was the last trading day for the November natural gas contract, and most interest shifted to the December contract, which settled 0.3 cent lower at $3.763 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude fell 43 cents to settle at $83.23 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.