- - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

U.S. sales of previously occupied homes dipped in December from November, in part because of a limited supply of available homes. But for all of 2012, sales rose to their highest level in five years.

The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales declined in December to an annual rate of 4.94 million. That’s down from a rate of 4.99 million in November, which was revised lower but was still the highest in three years.


Reports: Microsoft may invest in buyout of Dell

NEW YORK — Microsoft has joined the negotiations to buy struggling computer-maker Dell, according to media reports.

Both CNBC and The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft Corp. may invest some of the money needed to take Dell Inc. private after 25 years as a publicly traded company. Tuesday’s stories cited unidentified people familiar with the negotiations.


AT&T announces deal to buy Alltel for $780M

DALLAS — AT&T Inc. said Tuesday that it has reached a deal to buy remnants of the Alltel wireless network for about $780 million to boost its spectrum holdings in rural areas.

The Dallas-based phone company is buying the licenses, retail stores and network assets, along with about 585,000 subscribers, from Atlantic Tele-Network Inc.


Opel may move up end of production at plant

BERLIN — General Motors Co. says it could end Opel car production at a German plant at the beginning of 2015, two years earlier than planned, as it tries to turn around its European unit amid economic gloom in the region.


IPhone tops in U.S. as Android rules the world

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s iPhone remained the most popular smartphone among U.S. buyers in the closing months of 2012 while Android handsets were on top worldwide, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reported.


Citing Newtown, Groupon ends gun-related deals, promotions

NEW YORK — Groupon has halted gun-related promotions such as deals for shooting ranges and concealed weapons courses in the wake of last month’s massacre in Newtown, Conn.


Stocks close up on strong year-end earnings reports

Strong earnings reports from big U.S. companies helped push the Dow Jones industrial average to its eighth gain in nine sessions Tuesday.

DuPont, Verizon and Travelers Cos., three of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow, closed higher after reporting their financial results for the final quarter of 2012.

Higher sales of prescription drugs and medical devices helped Johnson & Johnson post a much bigger fourth-quarter profit than a year ago, when a slew of charges depressed results.

The Dow closed up 62.51 points, or 0.5 percent, at 13,712.21.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 6.58, or 0.4 percent, to 1,492.56.

The Nasdaq composite average rose 8.47, or 0.3 percent, to 3,143.18.


SEC strips accreditation from credit-rating firm

The Securities and Exchange Commission has barred Egan-Jones Ratings Co. from rating governments and issuers of other types of bonds as a recognized ratings agency for at least 18 months.

The SEC said Tuesday that the independent credit-rating agency agreed to the measure to settle charges that it had made false statements when applying to become a “Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization” in 2008.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports