Business briefs: Homebuilders lose confidence

  • Article by: Wire services
  • Updated: February 19, 2013 - 9:40 PM

This undated handout photo provided by HTC Corp., shows the company's new One phone. HTC, the struggling Taiwanese maker of smartphones, is taking a page from longtime partner Microsoft Corp. as it launches a new phone under the One brand. The phone runs Google Inc.'s Android software, but HTC is grafting its own home screen on the phone, one that's similar to that of Microsoft's Windows Phone software. (AP Photo/HTC) ORG XMIT: MIN2013021920105936

Homebuilders’ confidence declines slightly

Builder confidence ticked down slightly in February, according to a survey, essentially leveling out at a level slightly below “good.” Builder confidence in how the market for newly constructed single-family homes will fare remained pretty much the same as last month, declining a point to 46, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. A statement from the association said the decline was because of uncertainty about job growth and consumer access to credit as well as the rising cost of building materials.

This time, Apple is victim of a hack attack

Apple Inc. said some of its internal Mac systems were affected by a malware attack that was directed at multiple companies, adding to the list of businesses disclosing coordinated, high-profile hack attempts. “We identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network,” Apple said in a statement. “There is no evidence that any data left Apple. We are working closely with law enforcement to find the source of the malware.” Facebook Inc. said last week that it was subjected to a “sophisticated attack” by hackers.

Humana sinks as Medicare forecast falls short

Shares of Humana Inc. declined the most in three months after the second-biggest private Medicare insurer said the U.S. government’s preliminary Medicare Advantage payment rates were less than the company expected. Humana dropped 6.4 percent to close at $73.01, the biggest single-day drop since Nov. 7. The company said it is “closely analyzing all operational avenues” under the new rate proposal after earlier this month predicting it could boost revenue from Medicare membership next year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Friday that proposed Medicare Advantage rates will fall by more than 2 percent in 2014.

European new-car sales sink to a new low

European demand for new cars slumped in January to the lowest level on record for that month, industry data showed, as sales at Ford Motor Co.’s troubled operations on the Continent tumbled by 25.5 percent. New-car registrations, a proxy for sales, fell 8.7 percent compared with those in January 2012, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association reported in Brussels, falling to 885,159 units, the lowest level since the organization’s records began in 1990.

Next-gen HTC One smartphone unveiled

HTC introduced its next flagship smartphone, formally unveiling the new HTC One, which will make its global debut in late March. The HTC One is made of aluminum and features a high-resolution 4.7-inch screen with a full HD 1080p resolution. HTC, however, is trying to set its phone apart from the crowd with top-of-the-line features in areas other than the screen. For starters, the HTC One will include HTC BoomSound, which means it will have two dual front-facing speakers.

Illinois Tool explores sale of packaging unit

Illinois Tool Works Inc. hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to study options including a sale or spinoff of its industrial packaging unit as the company divests less-profitable businesses. The review is expected to continue through this year, the company said. The business makes steel, plastic and paper packaging used in transporting goods and had sales of about $2.4 billion last year, Illinois Tool said.

Google’s share price exceeds $800 a share

Shares of Google Inc., operator of the world’s largest Web-search engine, surpassed $800 for the first time as mobile computing bolsters growth. The shares advanced 1.8 percent to $806.85, the highest closing price since the company went public in August 2004.

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