- - Monday, September 19, 2011

HOUSING

Home-builder outlook worsens in September

The outlook of U.S. home builders worsened in September, as foreclosures and anxious buyers hurt construction and sales activity.

The National Association of Home Builders says its index of builder sentiment in September fell to 14 from 15. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. It hasn’t reached 50 since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom.

Last year, the number of people who bought new homes fell to its lowest level dating back nearly a half-century. Sales this year haven’t fared much better.

While new homes make up a small portion of sales, they have an outsize impact on the economy. The builders’ trade group says each new home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes.

MEDIA

Murdoch close to payout to hacking victim’s family

LONDON | Rupert Murdoch’s company said Monday that it is in advanced compensation talks with the family of a murdered teenager whose phone was hacked by the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

News International, Mr. Murdoch’s British newspaper division, said it hopes to reach agreement soon with the family of Milly Dowler.

In a statement, News International said it was “in advanced negotiations with the Dowler family regarding their compensation settlement.”

The BBC and Sky News reported that the company has offered to pay the family $2 million pounds ($3.2 million), and to donate 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to charity.

Dowler family lawyer Mark Lewis did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.

The revelation that the News of the World had hacked into the voicemail of 13-year-old Dowler shortly after she disappeared in 2002 horrified Britain and triggered a scandal that forced resignations of senior police officers and executives of Mr. Murdoch’s media empire.

The newspaper is accused of hacking into Dowler’s voicemail and deleting several messages, giving her parents false hope that she was alive and potentially damaging the police effort to find her.

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