- - Thursday, August 30, 2012

NEW YORK — This summer, Americans were walking contradictions: They opened their wallets despite escalating fears about the slow economic recovery and surging gas prices.

A group of 18 retailers ranging from discounter Target to department store chain Macy’s reported August sales on Thursday that rose 6 percent — the industry’s best performance since March — according to trade group International Council of Shopping Centers. At the same time, the government released numbers showing that Americans spent in July at the fastest clip in five months.

The news appears to show that what Americans say and do are two different things: The reports come two days after a private research firm said consumer confidence in August fell to its lowest level since November 2011 as Americans grew more concerned about the job market, business conditions and the overall economy.


Kindle Fire sells out; new model expected

NEW YORK — Amazon.com Inc. says it has sold out of its Kindle Fire tablet computer amid expectations of a new model for the holiday season.

The Internet retailer has a major news conference scheduled for next Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. It’s widely expected to reveal a new model of the Fire there, so Thursday’s announcement that the first model sold out suggests that Amazon halted production a while ago to retool for a new model.

Amazon launched the $199 tablet last November. It was the first Kindle with a color screen and the ability to run third-party applications, placing it in competition with Apple’s iPad, at half the price of the cheapest iPad.

Amazon didn’t say how many Fires it sold, but that it attracted 22 percent of U.S. tablet sales over nine months.


Bain’s cable box repair company files Chapter 11

NEW YORK — A cable box repair company owned by the private equity firm Bain Capital is filing for bankruptcy protection but says no jobs will be affected.

Contec Holdings Ltd. said Thursday it will continue to operate as usual during its Chapter 11 reorganization. The Schenectady, N.Y.-based company expects to complete the process and reduce long-term debt within 60 days.

The company’s reorganization plan was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. It said that lenders have agreed to provide a $25 million credit facility and $35 million in debtor-in-possession financing as part of the reorganization, which will let it make payments to employees and suppliers.

Bain invested in Contec, which repairs more than 2 million cable set top boxes a year, in 2008.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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