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Economy Briefs: New-home sales edged down 0.3% in August

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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 were boosting 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.

The median price of a new home jumped 11.2 percent in August to $256,900, the biggest one-month gain on record.

BANKS

U.S. Bank, PNC are latest to 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.

Last week, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center raised its cyberthreat level to "high" from "elevated" because of potential cyberattacks.

AUTOS

Canadian union reaches contract deal with Chrysler

TORONTO — The Canadian Auto Workers union says it has reached a tentative agreement with Chrysler on a labor contract.

CAW President Ken Lewenza confirmed a settlement Wednesday night but did immediately release details. The union wanted Chrysler to match the agreements it reached with Ford and GM this month.

The agreement must still be ratified by the workers. The deals avoided strikes and the possibility the Detroit automakers would move future production into Latin America, where labor is cheaper.

The Ford and GM contracts cut wages for new hires and freeze pay for current workers. But the contracts also give them lump-sum payments to cover inflation and for ratifying the deal.

The companies had said Canada was the most expensive place in the world to make cars and trucks. The CAW represents about 21,000 auto workers in Canada and about 16 percent of auto production in North America.

PARKING

Parking firms required to divest for merger

The Justice Department is requiring the two largest parking-management companies in the U.S. to sell 107 of their garages and lots in the central business districts of 28 cities in order to proceed with a merger.

If the deal is approved by a federal court, Chicago-based Standard Parking Corp. will acquire Central Parking Corp. of Nashville, Tenn., in a transaction valued at $345 million. Standard and Central each operates about 2,200 parking facilities.

Cities where the companies will sell some facilities include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia.

The Justice Department said that without the divestitures, the combined company would have gained a dominant market share, resulting in higher prices and reduced service to motorists.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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