Auto sales, home prices help buoy weak US economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is looking more resilient, thanks in part to encouraging signs for the two most expensive purchases most Americans make: cars and homes.
Cheap loans and a bounty of fuel-efficient models enticed people to buy new vehicles at a brisk pace last month. And the nation enjoyed another year-over-year surge in home prices in August — a sign that the housing industry is making a sustained comeback.
Both trends reflect rising confidence in the economy. They show that more families are replacing aging cars, more homeowners are deciding to sell and more would-be buyers are concluding that a home is a good investment.
Holiday sales seen rising 4.1 percent in 2012
NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are expected to spend more during what's traditionally the busiest shopping season of the year, but they're not exactly ready to "shop till they drop" as they have in the past two years.
The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, said Tuesday that it expects sales during the winter holiday shopping period in November and December to rise 4.1 percent from a year ago. That's more than a percentage point lower than the growth in each of the past two years, and the smallest increase since 2009 when sales were up just 0.3 percent.
The projections are an important indicator for retailers that depend on the last two months of the year for up to 40 percent of their annual sales. But the estimates also offer valuable insight for economists who closely watch consumer spending, which accounts for up to 70 percent of economic activity.
American says installation job caused seat snafu
DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines says improperly installed clamps caused seats to come loose on some planes, and it's expanding an inspection to cover dozens of jets.
In the past week, rows of seats have come loose on three separate flights, two of which made emergency landings.
American said Tuesday that the problem was caused by improper installation of a clamp used to attach each row of three seats to tracks on the aircraft floor.
Feds throw support behind lawsuit against JPMorgan
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government on Tuesday threw its support behind a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase, accusing Bear Stearns, the investment bank JPMorgan bought in 2008, of engaging in massive fraud in deals involving billions in residential mortgage-backed securities.
At a news conference, acting Associate Attorney General Tony West credited a federal-state working group of law enforcement agencies created by President Barack Obama in 2009 with assembling evidence in the lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general's office.
The Obama administration has been under heavy political pressure to hold major Wall Street players accountable for the nation's biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in 2008.
AIG: Gov't may subject firm to greater oversight
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is considering whether American International Group is large enough to threaten the broader financial system, a designation that would subject the bailed-out insurance giant to greater federal oversight.
AIG said Monday that it has received a notice from the Financial Stability Oversight Council saying it may be designated a systemically important financial institution. If it receives that label, AIG would be regulated by the Federal Reserve and required to hold a larger capital cushion against losses.
AIG received a $185 billion government bailout, the largest provided to a single company.
T-Mobile USA in talks to buy MetroPCS
NEW YORK (AP) — The parent of cellphone company T-Mobile USA on Tuesday said it's in talks to buy smaller MetroPCS Communications Inc., a deal that could shore up two struggling smaller players in the U.S. wireless industry.
Deutsche Telekom AG, the German company that owns T-Mobile USA, said "significant issues have not yet been finalized" and no decision has been made on a deal. MetroPCS also confirmed the talks.
T-Mobile USA is the country's fourth-largest cellphone company, with 33.2 million subscribers. Adding the 9.3 million subscribers of Dallas-based MetroPCS, the industry's No. 5, would still leave T-Mobile trailing No. 3 Sprint Nextel Corp.
Judge tosses BP fuel dealers' brand-name claims
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed claims by BP fuel stations and convenience stores that the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico diminished the value of the oil giant's brand and cost them business.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling says the dealers' claims against BP PLC aren't viable under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, general maritime law or state law.
Thomas Bleau, a lawyer for BP dealers Tobatex Inc. and M.R.M. Energy Inc., argued during a hearing last month that consumer animosity and bungling by BP corporate executives after the nation's worst offshore spill severely damaged the company's brand name. Switching brands wasn't an option for the dealers because many are locked into long-term contracts, he told Barbier.
Judge lifts US ban on sales of Samsung tablet
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge has lifted a ban on sales of Samsung Electronics Corp.'s Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled Monday the South Korean technology giant is now free to start selling the product in American stores.
The judge had previously banned U.S. sales of the tablet pending the resolution of a sweeping patent trial between Apple Inc. and Samsung over vital technology used in smartphones and tablet computers.
LinkedIn links up with panel of 'influencers'
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — LinkedIn is adding more expert advice to its website and making it easier for its users to find their pearls of wisdom.
The online professional networking service hopes the proffered tips and advice will help it extend its clout beyond the help-wanted market.
The new feature added Tuesday will encourage LinkedIn's more than 175 million members to sign up to follow the musings of "influencers" — a 150-person panel that includes President Barack Obama, business moguls, Internet bloggers, self-help gurus and entrepreneurs.
Facebook revamps its help center
NEW YORK (AP) — If you've used Facebook, chances are you've needed help with reporting spam, un-tagging photos or understanding the site's ever-changing privacy settings over the years.
Facebook's redesigned help center aims to make it easier for users to navigate and find what they need help with on the site or its mobile applications.
Though it's only fully accessible on Facebook's website, the new help center is designed to look and feel more like a mobile app, said Terry Guo, product manager at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media company.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 32.75 points to 13,482.36. The S&P 500 index gained 1.26 to close at 1,445.75. The Nasdaq composite rose 6.51 points to 3,120.04.
Benchmark oil dropped 59 cents to end at $91.89 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell 62 cents to $111.57 per barrel in London.
The price of natural gas rose 5.1 cents to end at $3.531 per 1,000 cubic feet, which was a high for the year. Heating oil fell 1.03 cents to finish at $3.1255 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline dropped 5.09 cents to end at $2.8692 per gallon.