LOS ANGELES – U.S. homebuilders’ confidence in the housing market held this month at its highest level in nearly eight years. But builders are starting to worry that sales may slow if mortgage rates continue to rise.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday registered at 58 this month. That’s unchanged from August, which was revised down from an initial reading of 59.
Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.
Key figure in Toyota’s rise, Eiji Toyoda, dies
TOKYO – Eiji Toyoda, a member of Toyota’s founding family who helped create the super-efficient “Toyota Way” production method, has died. He was 100.
Toyoda, a cousin of the Japanese automaker’s founder Kiichiro Toyoda, died Tuesday of heart failure at Toyota Memorial Hospital in Toyota city, central Japan, Toyota said in a statement.
Eiji Toyoda served as president from 1967 to 1982, engineering Toyota’s growth into a global automaker. He became chairman in 1982 and continued in advisory positions up to his death.
Microsoft board boosts dividend by 22 percent
REDMOND, Wash. – Microsoft said Tuesday that its board approved a 22 percent increase in the company’s quarterly dividend to 28 cents along with a new $40 billion stock buyback program.
The new dividend represents an increase of 5 cents over the world’s largest software company’s previous dividend. It will be paid on Dec. 12 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 21.
The increase in the dividend will cost Microsoft an extra $416 million per quarter, based on the 8.33 billion shares that FactSet says the company has outstanding.
Meanwhile, the new stock buyback program has no expiration date and replaces Microsoft’s previous $40 billion stock buyback program that was set to expire on Sept. 30.
Energy Department set to sell Fisker loan
WASHINGTON – The Energy Department says it is selling a $192 million loan made to struggling electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc.
The sale, to be held next month, is the latest setback for a half-billion-dollar loan guarantee offered to the California car maker in 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s program to promote green energy.
The administration suspended the loan in 2011, after Fisker failed to meet a series of Energy Department benchmarks. Fisker has not produced a vehicle in more than a year and has laid off three-fourths of its workers.
Fisker had received $192 million before the loan was frozen. The DOE says it has recouped about $28 million since then; the auction will allow the government to collect as much of the remaining $164 million as possible.
U.S. consumer prices barely rise in August
WASHINGTON – U.S consumer prices barely rose last month, the latest sign that slow economic growth is keeping inflation tame.
The consumer price index increased just 0.1 percent in August, the Labor Department said Tuesday, after a 0.2 percent increase in July. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core prices also rose just 0.1 percent.