U.S. pending home sales declined last month
Fewer Americans signed contracts in July to buy previously owned homes, a sign that rising mortgage rates are starting to slow momentum in the housing market. The index of pending home sales dropped 1.3 percent, the most this year, after a 0.4 percent decrease in June, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed. Economists forecast no change in the gauge from the month before, according to a median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Mortgage rates at a two-year high, and a limited number of existing homes are pushing some prospective buyers out of the market, threatening to slow the pace of the recovery in real estate. Improvements in employment and income growth would help provide additional fuel for housing, which has been a source of strength for the economy.
GM says Malibu’s mileage will be improved
General Motors Co., updating the Chevrolet Malibu after disappointing sales, said the 2014 model’s estimated fuel economy for city and highway driving will increase 12 percent, beating the Toyota Camry. The base 2014 Malibu, which reaches U.S. showrooms later this year, will get 29 miles per gallon in combined city and highway use, GM said. The 2013 base model was rated at 26 mpg, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Toyota Motor Corp.’s 2014 base Camry gets a combined 28 mpg, according to the EPA. GM announced changes for the 2014 model in May, including a sportier front end and roomier back seat intended to address criticisms of the redesigned sedan introduced last year.
New Nintendo 2DS will have lower price tag
Nintendo introduced a new portable gaming system, the Nintendo 2DS. The device will cost $130, or $40 less than its 3DS sibling, when it is released Oct. 12. It is capable of running all the games made for the 3DS, but without 3-D effects. For Nintendo, the price drop is a hedge against a future filled with tablet computers made by companies like Apple, Samsung and Amazon. “Forty bucks may not be a lot, but for families it’s a lot,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America. Fils-Aime said the 2DS was intended for the “entry gamer,” especially in families with multiple children. Nintendo is pairing the device’s release with the introduction of two new Pokemon games, a series that is popular among children.
Fandango acquires promotions company
Fandango, the fast-growing online seller of movie tickets, has swallowed a rival company that runs Hollywood Movie Money, a popular gift-certificate system that studios use to promote DVD and Blu-ray releases. Fandango’s acquisition of the company, Quantum Loyalty Solutions, catapults the online ticket seller deep into a backwater of the movie business, but a lucrative backwater nonetheless, said Paul Yanover, Fandango’s president. “It’s a great accelerator for us,” he said. Studios pay Quantum a fee to handle the distribution and redemption of promotional (usually, free) tickets to movies, which are often used to bolster sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
SeaWorld cuts prices as attendance drops
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., the subject of a critical documentary over the use of killer whales in its theme parks, is slashing ticket prices in the wake of a 9 percent second-quarter attendance drop. The company’s original park in San Diego is offering area residents a free kid’s ticket with an adult ticket purchase midweek, a $71 value, according to its website. SeaWorld Orlando cut $42 off the price of a midweek ticket, a 46 percent discount, if purchased in advance online. The current promotions are a reaction to consumer demand and part of an effort to fill parks on weekdays, company spokesman Fred Jacobs said in an e-mail.
Cotton glut expected to drive down prices
The fourth straight year of surplus cotton output and the biggest drop in Chinese imports since 2000 are creating record global inventories, signaling higher profits for the makers of Hanes underwear. Stockpiles will jump 8.6 percent to 93.765 million bales in the 12 months ending in July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in an Aug. 12 report. There are enough inventories to make three pairs of jeans for every person in the world. Prices may fall 8.5 percent to 76.6 cents a pound by the end of 2013, according to the Bloomberg analyst estimates.
From news services