Pfizer tries to sell AstraZeneca on $100B deal

Pfizer Inc. was turned down twice by fellow drugmaker AstraZeneca, but the maker of Viagra and Lipitor said that its proposed $100 billion acquisition makes sense for shareholders of both companies, and it's considering its next steps. A tie-up would bring new and complementary products to Pfizer, executives said on a conference call, important as patents on profitable medicines expire. Pressure on Pfizer for a deal also may be coming from a desire to save big money on taxes on the piles of cash it earned and keeps overseas. During conference calls with investors and journalists, Pfizer executives said a combination would also bring major savings — meaning job and other cost cuts.

Pending home sales rose 3.4% last month

More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in March, the first increase since June and a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year. The National Association of Realtors said that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 3.4 percent to 97.4 last month. Still, the index remains 7.9 percent below its level a year ago. Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases: A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a signed contract and a completed sale. The gain partly reflects a recovery from the harsh winter. Snowstorms and freezing temperatures kept many potential buyers away from open houses in January and February. Still, the rise in pending sales means that home sales could rebound during the spring buying season. It comes after two dismal sales reports last week suggested that sales and construction would increase only modestly this year.

AT&T planning 4G wireless on airline flights

AT&T Inc., the second-biggest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, will introduce 4G LTE wireless Internet access on commercial flights, mounting a challenge to Wi-Fi provider Gogo Inc. With help from Honeywell International Inc., AT&T will begin offering the service as soon as late 2015 for in-flight Internet connections and entertainment, as well as for cockpit communications, the company said. The 4G LTE technology it will use on board is the same standard AT&T employs for its fastest mobile-phone network. The company is seeking to tap into growing demand for reliable Internet access on planes as more passengers bring digital devices, such as tablets and e-books, to pass the time during flights.

Yahoo planning two original comedy series

Yahoo Inc. will release two new comedy series next year in hopes of becoming an even more serious player in Internet video programming. The expansion announced during a presentation in New York makes Yahoo Inc. the latest technology company to mount a challenge to Netflix Inc., which runs the Internet's largest Internet video subscription service. Yahoo's comedies are "Other Space," a show revolving around an alternate universe set in the 22nd century, and "Sin City Saints," a show about the front-office antics of a fictional basketball team. Both series will consist of eight half-hour episodes. Financial terms of Yahoo's deals to license the new series weren't disclosed.

AOL confirms significant security breach

AOL Inc. has confirmed what many suspected: The company suffered a major security breach. Hackers were able to steal the e-mail addresses, postal addresses, address books, encrypted passwords and the encrypted answers to security questions of "a significant number of user accounts," the company said Monday. "The ongoing investigation of this serious criminal activity is our top priority," AOL said in a note. "We are working closely with federal authorities to pursue this investigation to its resolution. Our security team has put enhanced protective measures in place, and we urge our users to take proactive steps to help ensure the security of their accounts."