Housing starts climbed again last month
U.S. builders started work on single-family houses last month at the fastest pace since the Great Recession began in late 2007. Housing starts in July rose 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million homes, the Commerce Department said. Construction of single-family houses accounted for all of the gains, shooting up 12.8 percent last month to the highest rate since December 2007. The increase pointed to a housing market that has strengthened for much of the year, reflecting an increased sense of financial security for many Americans amid steady job growth, modest layoffs and relatively low mortgage rates. Continued gains in housing would help extend the current economic expansion.
NBCUniversal to put $200M into BuzzFeed
Entertainment conglomerate NBCUniversal has agreed to make a $200 million equity investment in BuzzFeed, both companies confirmed. The companies plan to collaborate on projects including television shows, movies, Olympics coverage and other "joint partnership with ad agencies and brands," BuzzFeed Executive Chairman Kenneth Lerer said in a statement. The deal was widely rumored last month, with reports that NBCUniversal was in talks to invest as much as $250 million in BuzzFeed News in the attempt to reach a younger audience that has moved away from traditional broadcast media to getting its news and entertainment online.
Google plans to sell its own wireless router
Google is making a Wi-Fi router as part of its ambition to provide better Internet connections that make it easier for people to access its digital services and see more of its online advertising. Pre-orders for the $199 wireless router, called OnHub, can be made at Google's online store, Amazon.com and Walmart.com. The device will go on sale in stores in the U.S. and Canada in late August or early September. Google is touting the cylinder-shaped OnHub as a leap ahead in a neglected part of technology. The company is promising its wireless router will be sleeker, more reliable, more secure and easier to use than other long-established alternatives.
BB&T to buy National Penn for $1.8 billion
The commercial bank BB&T will renew its push into mid-Atlantic states with a roughly $1.8 billion acquisition of National Penn, which runs branches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. BB&T said it will pay either $13 in cash or a portion of its stock for each National Penn share. That represents a 19 percent premium to the $10.92 closing price of National Penn shares on Monday. Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T announced the acquisition late Monday, a couple of weeks after it closed its purchase of Susquehanna Bancshares Inc., a deal valued at about $2.5 billion.
Ikea recalls night lights for shock hazard
Swedish retailer Ikea is recalling around 442,000 night lights because of the cover of the light can detach, creating a risk of electrical shock. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said Ikea is taking all of its Patrull night lights off the market and advises consumers to stop using the product and contact the company for a refund. The agency says the dome shaped plastic covering on the light can detach, exposing its electrical components. The CPSC said a child in Austria who was trying to take the light out of an outlet suffered an electric shock. No injuries have been reported in the U.S. or Canada.
Toshiba sees loss after accounting scandal
Japanese energy and electronics giant Toshiba Corp. says it expects to book a loss in the current fiscal year and is beefing up its management standards after an investigation found extensive problems with its accounting and corporate governance. The company said that it plans to add more outside directors to help ensure stricter oversight. A probe found underreporting of project costs and losses in many divisions in a scandal that prompted the resignations of former company President Hisao Tanaka and two other top executives.