By The Associated Press
2013-09-27 06:01 AM
US economy grew at 2.5 percent rate in spring
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, an improvement from the first three months of the year. But economists are worried that growth may now be slowing.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that its final look at economic growth in the spring was unchanged from a prior estimate made last month.
However, the components of growth were altered slightly. Businesses added a bit less to their stockpiles and exports did not grow as fast as previously thought. These downward revisions were balanced by slightly stronger spending by state and local governments.
Signs emerge that US job market may be picking up
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The job market is sending signs that it may be strengthening.
The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has sunk to its lowest point in six years because few companies are laying anyone off anymore. A survey of service companies found that they added jobs last month at their fastest pace in six months. And more small businesses say they plan to hire than at any point since the recession began.
All of which is prompting some economists to forecast a healthier job gain in September than the economy has produced in recent months.
US pending home sales fall for 3rd straight month
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy U.S. homes in August, the third straight decline. The drop could mean that higher mortgage rates are starting to deter some buyers.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales declined 1.6 percent to 107.7 last month. The index has fallen for three straight months after reaching a 6 1/2-year high in May.
The pending home sales index measures signed contracts. Buyers typically complete sales one to two months later.
The housing market has been in recovery for the last year and a half and final home sales reached a six-year high in August, the Realtors' group said last week. But mortgage rates have risen nearly a full percentage point since May.
NYC accountant is arrested in Madoff fraud
NEW YORK (AP) -- A senior partner at a New York accounting firm has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he aided financier Bernard Madoff in his epic fraud.
Paul Konigsberg entered the plea Thursday at an arraignment on five charges that he conspired with Madoff and helped him lie to investors.
He is accused of participating in and helping to direct false bookkeeping. Prosecutors say he is the only person outside the Madoff family to have held an ownership interest in Madoff's private investment business.
Konigsberg's lawyer tells a magistrate judge that his 77-year-old client was unaware of Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Konigsberg has been released on $2 million bail.
Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after admitting his fraud in 2009.
EBay to buy payments company Braintree for $800 million
NEW YORK (AP) -- E-commerce giant eBay Inc. reached a deal to buy online and mobile payments technology provider Braintree for $800 million in cash.
The move comes as eBay's PayPal unit works to evolve from its roots as an online payments provider, expanding its offline, mobile and online offerings to stores, restaurants and other business.
Braintree's payments technology is used by popular startups such as vacation rentals site Airbnb, cab-hailing app Uber and restaurant reservations site OpenTable. The company charges businesses a fee of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per each transaction, and expects to process about $12 billion in payments this year.
San Jose, California-based eBay Inc. said Thursday that it will operate Braintree as a separate business. Bill Ready, the CEO of the Chicago-based company, will report to PayPal President David Marcus.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55.04 points to close at 15,328.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.9 points to close at 1,698.67. The Nasdaq composite climbed 26.33 points to end at 3,787.43.
Benchmark oil for November delivery gained 37 cents Thursday to close at $103.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $2.71 per gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $3.50 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 3 cents to $3.00 per gallon.
Brent crude, the benchmark for international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, rose 89 cents to $109.21 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.