Business briefs: Consumer prices fell 0.1 percent last month

  • Updated: November 20, 2013 - 8:50 PM

Consumer prices fell 0.1 percent last month

Cheaper gasoline lowered overall U.S. consumer prices slightly in October. But outside the steep drop at the pump, inflation stayed mild. The consumer price index fell 0.1 percent last month, down from a 0.2 percent increase in September, the Labor Department said. The October decline was due mainly to a 2.9 percent drop in gasoline costs, the largest since April. Over the past 12 months, overall prices have risen 1 percent, well below the Federal Reserve’s inflation target of 2 percent. PNC Bank chief economist Stuart Hoffman said the low inflation reading ensures that the Fed will continue its extraordinary measures to spur growth. Excluding volatile energy and food costs, so-called core prices rose 0.1 percent in October from September and have risen just 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.

Sales of existing homes declined in October

Existing-home sales fell nationwide in October, a decline a trade group attributed to tight inventory and declining affordability. Sales of previously owned single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops fell 3.2 percent from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.12 million, the National Association of Realtors said. It was the second consecutive month of declines. Still, sales are 6 percent higher than October 2012. The median sales price rose 12.8 percent from October of last year to $199,500 last month. The number of homes for sale fell 1.8 percent from September, although slackening demand made those homes languish on the market longer.

Devon Energy to buy GeoSouthern assets

Devon Energy Corp. will buy closely held GeoSouthern Energy Corp.’s Eagle Ford assets for $6 billion in cash, expanding its shale holdings in one of the most prolific oil basins in the United States. The acquisition includes production equivalent to 53,000 barrels a day and an estimated 400 million barrels of reserves, Oklahoma City-based Devon said. The purchase from Woodlands, Texas-based GeoSouthern covers 82,000 net acres of drilling leases in the Eagle Ford in Texas.

Tribune Co. to cut 700 jobs in restructuring

The Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, will lay off 700 employees at those newspapers and the six others it owns, it said in memos to the staff. The cuts, which represent about 6 percent of the company’s 11,000 employees, will affect mostly its business side, Peter Liguori, chief executive of the Tribune Co., said in the memos. Tribune is preparing to spin off its newspaper unit into a separate company and shift its focus to its television holdings.

Yahoo stock buyback grows by $5 billion

Yahoo Inc. boosted its share buyback plan by $5 billion, returning more cash to shareholders as Chief Executive Marissa Mayer seeks to revive growth at the largest U.S. Internet portal. Yahoo will also raise $1 billion in convertible debt maturing in 2018, the company said Wednesday. Mayer’s turnaround has focused on acquisitions of technology start-ups.

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