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
WASHINGTON — 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
WASHINGTON — 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
LOS ANGELES — 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
NEW YORK — 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.
Short-term Treasury rates fall
WASHINGTON — Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Tuesday's auction to the lowest levels since early 2012. The Treasury Department auctioned $30 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.030 percent, down from 0.040 percent last week. Another $25 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.055 percent, down from 0.065 percent last week. The three-month rate was the lowest since three-month bills averaged 0.025 percent on Jan. 17, 2012. The six-month rate was the lowest since these bills averaged 0.050 percent on Jan. 9, 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 $9,997.22. That would equal an annualized rate of 0.030 percent for the three-month bills and 0.056 percent for the six-month bills.
Chobani pulls yogurt over mold
NEW YORK — Chobani is pulling some of its Greek yogurt from supermarket shelves. The company said it has investigated and found a type of mold commonly found in dairy that may be to blame. Chobani said the affected product came from its Idaho facility and represents less than 5 percent of its total production. The company has been working with retailers to remove and replace containers with the code 16-012 and expiration dates Sept. 11 to Oct. 7. Chobani, based in New Berlin, N.Y., did not say how many of its cups or what varieties were affected. It is not issuing a formal recall.
Thailand extends rice subsidies
BANGKOK — The Thai Cabinet has extended rice subsidies widely criticized for high costs and knocking the country from its spot as world's biggest rice exporter. Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong said Tuesday the Cabinet approved a total budget of $8.4 billion to buy rice at above-market prices from farmers for another year. Under the renewed program, farmers will be paid $467 per ton. The government will cap the total value for each qualifying household at $10,890 per household. The government said the scheme has accumulated losses of at least $4.46 billion since it was introduced in 2011, but its attempt to lower the payments faced resistance from farmers, whose votes can decide elections.
From wire reports