Business Highlights for Sept. 4

Business Highlights for Sept. 4
By The Associated Press Modified: September 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm •  Published: September 4, 2013
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Business highlights

Verizon, Vodafone make big deal

Verizon's $130 billion deal with Vodafone is huge for both companies, although Verizon customers in the U.S. are unlikely to see any big changes to their bills or their service. Verizon is buying the 45 percent of its wireless business owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone. That will let Verizon keep all of the profits from that business, and gives Vodafone cash to fund its expansion ambitions in Europe. It's the second-biggest buyout on record. Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said on a conference call Tuesday that the company's U.S. wireless businesses are working well now, and that he would move slowly on any changes to its structure.

Construction spending rise in July

Spending on U.S. construction projects rose in July, led by strong gains in housing and nonresidential projects. Construction spending increased 0.6 percent in July compared with June when activity was unchanged, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The June performance represented an upward revision from an initial estimate that spending had fallen 0.6 percent. Total construction activity rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $900.8 billion in July, the strongest performance since June 2009.

U.S. factory orders, jobs grow

U.S. factories expanded last month at the fastest pace since June 2011 on a jump in orders. The report signals that manufacturing output could strengthen in coming months. The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index rose to 55.7 in August from 55.4 in July. That topped the index's 12-month average of 52. A reading above 50 indicates growth. The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers. A gauge of new orders rose nearly five points to 63.2, the highest level in more than two years. Production increased but more slowly than in the previous month. Factories also added more jobs, though also at a weaker rate than in July.

Housing prices are in sellers' favor

U.S. home prices jumped 12.4 percent in July from a year earlier, reflecting a housing market that's increasingly favoring sellers amid a tight supply of available homes for sale. Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that home prices in every state but Delaware climbed on annual basis in July. Ninety-nine of the 100 largest cities reported annual price gains.

Google makes sweet naming deal

Gimme a break, Google. Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar. The tech giant, which is known for nicknaming its Android mobile operating systems for smartphones and tablets after desserts, has for the first time chosen a brand-name candy for its 4.4 version that's expected to launch this fall: Kit Kat. That's right, the new version shares a name with the chocolate candy bar with the well-known “Gimme a Break” jingle. Kit Kat packaging will show Android's green robot mascot breaking a Kit Kat bar. Financial terms weren't disclosed for the sweet deal between Google and Hershey Co., which makes Kit Kat.

Amazon plans Kindle reader upgrade

Amazon is upgrading its Kindle Paperwhite electronic book reader with a sharper display, expanded dictionary and faster computer hardware. A version that includes ads is available for pre-order starting Tuesday for $119 and will begin shipping Sept. 30. Amazon also says that customers will be able to get books they bought from Amazon in paper form on their Kindle, for prices ranging from free to $3. The MatchBook program covers book purchases since 1995, but requires the book publisher to enroll their books in Kindle's program. Amazon says the new e-book service will include 10,000 titles when it launches in October.

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