Global free trade talks collapse
GENEVA (AP) — Negotiators came tantalizingly close but failed to clinch a global free trade deal after more than a decade of talks that could have boosted the world economy by $1 trillion, the head of the World Trade Organization said Tuesday.
Diplomats from the WTO's 159 members were trying to reach an agreement ahead of a summit next week in Bali, Indonesia where ministers were to have signed the deal.
The negotiations sought to ease the rules of global commerce by cutting red tape to open markets and help develop poorer economies. They also focused on tariff quotas, government incentives for exports and agriculture issues such as subsidies for grain stockpiling. But disputes between major economies such as the United States, the European Union, China and India bogged down the discussions.
Typhoon ruined traditional, high-tech livelihoods
TANAUAN, Philippines (AP) — As Typhoon Haiyan tore across the eastern Philippines, coconut plantations older than the fathers of the men who tend them were smashed like matchsticks and call centers that field customer service gripes from around the world fell silent.
The storm that killed thousands also wrecked traditional and high-tech livelihoods in the worst hit region, a blow that will ripple long after the disaster fades from attention.
The workload of call and data centers that are soaked in water and choked with debris has easily been diverted to other Philippine cities. Less simple is the choice faced by thousands of workers: uproot and separate from family or stay in Leyte province and wait perhaps a year for the jobs to return. And tenant coconut farmers know they must clear flattened trees and replant. It will be three years before the new trees are mature enough to bear fruit.
US home permits rise at 5-year high on apartments
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. developers received approval in October to build apartments at the fastest pace in five years, a trend that could boost economic growth in the final three months of the year.
Permits to build houses and apartments were approved at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.034 million, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That's 6.2 percent higher than the September rate of 974,000 and the fastest since June 2008, just before the peak of the financial crisis.
Nearly all of the increase was for multi-family homes, a part of residential construction that reflects rentals and can be volatile from month to month. Those permits rose 15.3 percent to a rate of 414,000, also the fastest since June 2008. Plans for construction in the U.S. south drove much of the increase.
Permits for single-family houses, which make up roughly two-thirds of the market, rose 0.8 percent to a rate of 620,000.
US home prices rose at slower pace in September
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose more slowly in September than in August, a sign that weaker sales are preventing the kinds of sharp price gains that occurred earlier this year.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.7 percent from August to September, down from a 1.3 percent gain from July to August. Still, year over year, prices jumped 13.3 percent from September 2012, the fastest such gain since February 2006.
The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The September figures are the latest available. Prices aren't adjusted for seasonal variations, so the month-to-month changes reflect, in part, slower buying in late summer and fall.