GM tells of electric joint venture with China

General Motors said that it would develop electric cars in China through a joint venture with a Chinese automaker, and would transfer battery and other electric car technology to the venture. Tuesday's announcement was being made as the Chinese government was putting heavy pressure on foreign automakers to transfer electric car technology to joint ventures in China. But GM took pains to say that its joint-venture agreement was not connected to its plans to begin importing its new U.S.-made Chevrolet Volt electric car to China this year.

Builders start 5% fewer new homes in August

Builders started construction on fewer new homes in August, underscoring how the depressed U.S. real estate market shows little sign of recovering. Housing starts fell 5 percent to an annual rate of 571,000 last month, the lowest level in three months, according to Commerce Department data. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to fall to a seasonally adjusted 590,000 from July's revised level of 601,000.

Google+ now is open to public

Google on Tuesday opened its invitation-only social network, Google+, to the public. Google+, which the company introduced in June to select people who could invite others, is its long-anticipated Facebook competitor. Google's announcement that anyone could now join was made two days before Facebook's f8 Developer Conference, where it is expected to introduce media partners, tools for software developers and possibly mobile apps.

Airline industry group raises profit forecast

Worldwide demand for air travel remains well above average despite clear signs of a broad economic slowdown, a group representing most of the world's airlines said Tuesday, leading the group to substantially raise its profit forecast for the year. But the deepening debt crisis in Europe and stagnant jobs growth in North America would probably curtail both business and leisure travel by the year-end holiday season, said the group, the International Air Transport Association. The association raised its forecast for combined airline profit in 2011 to $6.9 billion, $2.9 billion more than it had predicted in June. But the group said that collective profits in 2012 were likely to drop to $4.9 billion.

UBS executives gather in Singapore

As a special UBS committee starts to dissect the unauthorized trades that cost the Swiss financial firm $2.3 billion, UBS executives arrived in Singapore to discuss the future of its investment banking business. UBS' chief executive, Oswald J. Grubel, and the rest of the bank's board are set to meet Wednesday and Thursday to consider a new strategy for a smaller and leaner investment bank to win back client and investor trust. The meeting was scheduled before last week's arrest of one of its London traders. UBS had planned to scale back its fixed-income operation and other capital-intensive divisions to help make UBS more profitable before Kweku M. Adoboli was charged with fraud and false accounting. But the scandal may force Grubel to consider even greater changes and to reveal any plans before the investor meeting scheduled for Nov. 17.

Solyndra CEO, CFO to take the Fifth

Solyndra Inc.'s chief executive officer and chief financial officer will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and not answer questions during a Friday hearing before a House investigative committee, their attorneys said. Attorneys for Solyndra Chief Executive Brian Harrison and W.G. "Bill" Stover, the company's chief financial officer, sent letters to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigative subcommittee Tuesday saying the two executives would not answer any questions during the hearing.