- - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The recovery of the U.S. housing market is looking steadier and more sustainable, a trend that likely will add to economic growth in 2012 for the first time in seven years.

Purchases, construction and prices are increasing gradually but consistently, though they remain far below levels seen in a healthy economy.

Sales of previously occupied homes rose 2.3 percent in July from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Over the past 12 months, sales have jumped more than 10 percent.

New-home sales have been strengthening, too. Toll Bros., a builder of high-end homes, said Wednesday that it’s enjoying its most sustained demand in more than five years.


HP has $8.9B loss on expected charge for flop

SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard says it suffered an $8.9 billion loss during its most recent quarter as the technology company accounted for an acquisition that hasn’t panned out the way management envisioned.

The setback isn’t a surprise. Hewlett-Packard Co. telegraphed the news earlier when it disclosed plans to take an $8 billion charge to reflect the shrinking value of Electronic Data Systems, a technology consulting service that it bought for $13 billion in 2008.

The fiscal third-quarter loss announced Wednesday translates to $4.49 per share. It’s by far the biggest quarterly setback in HP’s 73-year history. The company earned $1.9 billion, or 93 cents per share, at the same time last year.

HP’s revenue sank 5 percent from last year to $29.7 billion. That was about $500 million below analysts’ projections.


USDA bought meat from slaughterhouse

FRESNO, Calif. — A California slaughterhouse under federal investigation for animal cruelty and possible health issues sold 21 million pounds of beef to the federal government in 2011 for use in school and other nutritional programs, records show.

Federal officials said nothing they have seen so far on undercover video shot at the facility shows meat from cows that may have been sick or lame made it into the food supply, but interviews with employees were ongoing.

Records show the government made five large-scale purchases of ground and chunk beef from the company in 2011, spending more than $50 million of the total $135 allocated by the government for such acquisitions that year.

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