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Business news in brief

Business news briefs for Tuesday, July 30, 2013.
By The Associated Press Modified: July 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm •  Published: July 30, 2013
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Business briefs

Candy tour for a cause

Billionaire Warren Buffett is auctioning off an all-you-eat tour of the See's Candy factory in California to benefit an education nonprofit there. Bidding already had reached $30,000 by Monday, but it remains to be seen whether the final price of this auction will rival the annual auction of lunch with Buffett which routinely tops $1 million. The online auction that runs through Aug. 13 will benefit Communities In Schools of Los Angeles. Buffett said he'll teach the auction winner the proper way to eat a bonbon during the half-day tour.

3-month bill rate falls

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday's auction to the lowest levels since January 2012. The Treasury Department auctioned $30 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.030 percent, down from 0.035 percent last week. Another $25 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.065 percent, down from 0.070 percent last week. The three-month rate was the lowest since these bills averaged 0.025 percent on Jan. 17, 2012. The six-month rate was the lowest since these bills averaged 0.060 percent, also on Jan. 17, 2012. The discount rates reflect that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,999.24 while a six-month bill sold for $9,996.71. That would equal an annualized rate of 0.030 percent for the three-month bills and 0.066 percent for the six-month bills.

Fast-food workers strike

— Fast-food workers across New York City are striking for better pay and the right to unionize. Walkouts and demonstrations were held Monday at restaurants including McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's. Activists said hundreds of workers walked off their jobs. They are demanding a minimum-wage increase and calling for better benefits. At a McDonald's across from Yankee Stadium, several dozen people chanted “We can't survive on $7.25.” The national Fast Food Forward campaign is organizing the demonstrations. Strikes are planned in other cities this week. A spokesman for an industry trade group that McDonald's referred comment to said doubling the minimum wage would affect job creation.

Home contracts drop

— The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes dipped in June from a six-year high in May, a sign that sales could stabilize over the next few months. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales ticked down 0.4 percent to 110.9 in June. The May reading was revised lower by a percentage point to 111.3, but it was still the highest since December 2006. The slight decline suggests higher mortgage rates may be starting to slow sales. Still, signed contracts are 10.9 percent higher than they were a year ago. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. Economists were relieved after seeing only a modest decline. They said that shows higher mortgage rates are having only a small impact on the home sales market.

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