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Residential construction posts solid gain in November

WASHINGTON – U.S. construction spending rose in November at the strongest pace in more than four years, driven by solid gains in home construction and commercial projects.

The Commerce Department says construction spending increased 1 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $934.4 billion. That’s the fastest rate since March 2009 and a slight improvement on the 0.9 percent gain in October.

Residential construction rose 1.9 percent in November, after falling in October. Homebuilding last exceeded the November pace shortly before the 2008 financial crisis. Spending on single-family homes has increased 18.4 percent year over year, while spending on apartment buildings is up 36.3 percent during the same period.

Commercial projects also increased 2.7 percent in November, while government construction spending fell 1.8 percent after strong gains in October.

Martha Stewart Living, Macy’s settle lawsuit

NEW YORK – Macy’s and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia say they have settled a breach-of-contract lawsuit involving J.C. Penney.

But Macy’s said the settlement does not impact its lawsuit against J.C. Penney Co., which is still ongoing.

Macy’s Inc. and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. said Thursday that their settlement terms are confidential and not material to their businesses. Both companies said that they look forward to “a continued, successful partnership together.”

Macy’s has had an exclusive merchandising contract with Martha Stewart since 2006, including items like bedding and bath products.

Stewart’s company and Penney signed a merchandising deal in December 2011 to develop mini Martha Stewart shops. That prompted Macy’s to sue both companies for violating its exclusive agreement with Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and J.C. Penney have already scaled back their partnership. In October the department store chain said it would no longer sell a broad range of home and bath products designed by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia but would continue to sell a smaller batch of Martha Stewart items, including window treatments, rugs and party supplies.

J.C. Penney spokeswoman Daphne Avila said the company had no comment on the Macy’s settlement with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Cambodian troops quash factory workers’ protest

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Troops have been used to forcefully quell a demonstration by striking factory workers in Cambodia, with Buddhist monks and labor leaders among those detained.

A statement by a local human rights group said soldiers from a military special command unit carrying metal pipes, knives, AK-47 rifles, slingshots and batons clashed twice Thursday with striking workers at a factory in Phnom Penh’s outlying Pursenchey district. It said 10 people were taken into military custody. It also said monks and workers were beaten.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said those arrested had led hundreds of protesting workers in trying to destroy factory property.

Many of Cambodia’s estimated 500,000 garment workers are on strike demanding an increase in the minimum wage to $160 a month, about double the current rate.

 

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