New home sales drop in August
WASHINGTON — Sales of new homes in the United States dipped slightly in August from July but the median price of homes sold during the month rose by a record amount. New-home sales edged down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 373,000 in August, a dip of 0.3 percent from July's revised rate of 374,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That had been the fastest pace since April 2010 when government tax credits boosted sales. Sales in August were up 27.7 percent from the pace a year ago. But even with that gain, new-home sales remain well below the annual pace of 700,000 that economists consider healthy.
Barnes & Noble to update tablet
NEW YORK — Barnes & Noble is rolling out two new versions of its Nook tablet with sleek new hardware and a sharper high-definition screen. The bookseller's move heightens the already intense tablet wars heading into the holiday season. Barnes & Noble said Wednesday that its new Nook HD will come in two sizes, one with a 7-inch screen (measured diagonally), starting at $199, and one with a new 9-inch diagonal screen, called the Nook HD+, starting at $269. In addition to the new HD screen and a lighter body, Barnes & Noble is also increasing the services the Nook offers, adding a video purchase and rental service.
McDonald's plans TV channel
LOS ANGELES — The question of the moment at 700 pioneering McDonald's restaurants: You want TV with those fries? Not just any television, but the custom-made M Channel, formulated and tested with the same attention to detail that made Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets cultural icons. The channel's aim is to offer exclusive content to entertain customers. More ambitiously, it also intends to create promotional and sales opportunities for record companies and others who want to dive into McDonald's vast customer pool.
Company considers $581M offer
CLEVELAND — American Greetings Corp. said Wednesday that a group led by its CEO and chief operating officer wants to buy the company and take it private in a deal that values it at about $581 million. The Cleveland-based greeting card company's shares jumped 15 percent on the news. American Greetings, whose brands also include Carlton Cards, Recycled Paper Greetings and Papyrus, said its board received the proposal from Chief Executive Zev Weiss and his brother, President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Weiss, on Tuesday.
Banks report website problems
NEW YORK — Two more major banks, U.S. Bank and PNC, have reported problems with their websites after a financial services security group warned about possible cyberattacks on banks. A spokesman for U.S. Bank says some customers have experienced delays. He says the bank is working to fix the problem and is working with law enforcement. A spokesman for PNC says the bank is “taking appropriate measures.” The U.S. Bank spokesman says the issue appears to be related to problems at other banks in the past week. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America both had system problems last week, and Wells Fargo reported access problems with its site Tuesday.