Tribune Co. denies Murdoch's sale rumor

The Tribune Publishing Co. on Monday denied a rumor started by media mogul Rupert Murdoch that the news organization was on the verge of being sold, saying it is not engaged in discussion or a process to sell the company. Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers, sent a message to its employees addressing what it called media speculation. The speculation began Friday when Murdoch, co-chairman of News Corp., said on Twitter that he had heard Tribune Publishing would be sold and that the Times would be spun off to a local group involving billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad.

Pending sales of homes show slight increase

Contract signings to purchase previously owned U.S. homes rose less than forecast in October after declining in the prior two months, showing residential real estate is cooling heading into the quieter selling season. An index of pending home sales increased 0.2 percent in October after a revised 1.6 percent decline a month earlier, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. Economists projected a 1 percent advance last month, according to the Bloomberg survey median. Lean inventories of available properties are limiting choices for prospective buyers who qualify for credit. At the same time, steady hiring gains and early signs of a pickup in worker pay probably will continue to support housing demand even after a recent gain in borrowing costs in anticipation of an increase in the Federal Reserve's benchmark interest rate.

Breach exposes info on VTech customers

Kid's technology maker VTech says the personal information of about 5 million of its customers and their children may have been stolen by hackers. The Hong Kong-based company disclosed the breach of a customer database late last week, but didn't say how many people could be affected until Monday. VTech's Kidizoom Smartwatch is predicted to be a top seller this holiday season, while its InnoTab tablets have been popular in the past. Compromised information in the VTech breach includes the names, birth dates and genders of child users. It also includes adult user information including names, e-mail addresses, passwords, secret questions and answers for password retrieval, IP addresses, mailing addresses and download histories.

Treasury bill rates soar at weekly auction

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills soared in Monday's auction to their highest levels since March 2009, as investors expect that the Federal Reserve will soon start raising interest rates. The Treasury Department auctioned $28 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.215 percent, up from 0.140 percent last week. Another $26 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.415 percent, up from 0.350 percent last week. Rates on government bonds have climbed in recent weeks amid investors' expectations that the Fed will raise its key short-term interest rate at a policymaking meeting on Dec. 16.

Report: More Northeast casinos in trouble

A Wall Street firm predicts a new wave of casino expansion in the Northeast will lead to more casino closings in Atlantic City, N.J. Moody's Investors Service says eight new casinos opening in the next three years will put even more pressure on those already struggling to survive. The company says it expects additional casinos to close in Atlantic City, where four of 12 went out of business last year due in large part to ever-increasing competition. Moody's does not predict how may will go belly-up. But it says the Trump Taj Mahal, Caesars and Bally's "are already on the brink." Each is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

NEWS SERVICES