AP Business NewsBrief at 11:34 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sales contracts for homes rose 2 pct. in JanuaryWASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January to the highest level in nearly two years, supporting the view that the housing market is gradually coming back. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its index of sales agreements rose 2 percent last month to a reading of 97. That's the highest reading since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal home-buying tax credit and the last time the reading was above 100.
Proview seeks to regain global rights to iPad nameSHANGHAI (AP) _ Proview Electronics says it is now seeking to regain worldwide rights to the iPad name and is suing Apple Inc. for alleged fraud and unfair competition, hoping to have a 2009 sale of the trademark ruled void. The Taiwan-based maker of LED lights said in a release late Monday that it had amended its lawsuit filed earlier this month in Santa Clara, California's Superior Court.
World Bank protest highlights China reform tensionBEIJING (AP) _ A protester briefly disrupted a news conference by World Bank president Robert Zoellick on Tuesday, highlighting tensions over the bank's recommendation for Beijing to reduce the dominance of state industry and promote free markets. Zoellick had just begun speaking at the event in the bank's Beijing office when a Chinese man in a pinstriped business suit stood up and shouted slogans including, "State-owned industry should not be privatized!" He handed out leaflets criticizing the proposed changes before bank staff ushered him out.
Detroit automakers race to keep up with salesDETROIT (AP) _ Auto sales are growing so fast that Detroit can barely keep up. Three years after the U.S. auto industry nearly collapsed, sales of cars and trucks are surging. Sales could exceed 14 million this year, above last year's 12.8 million.
Recovery bypasses Silicon Valley non-tech workersMENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) _ Daniel Macias is the face of Silicon Valley seldom seen by those who don't live there. When he was 19, he wasn't starting what would become one of the world's most successful tech companies, like Mark Zuckerberg did at that age when he founded Facebook. Macias spent his 19th birthday behind bars, where he'd been sentenced for assault.
UK says bank tried to avoid $800 million in taxLONDON (AP) _ Britain has ordered a bank to pay half a billion pounds ($800 million) in unpaid tax that it tried to avoid by exploiting regulatory loopholes, a government minister said Monday. Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said the bank had sought to use an "aggressive" avoidance scheme to dodge corporation tax on profit made buying back its own debt. It also carried out a scheme to seek "repayment" from the government of tax it had never paid.
Asia stocks muted as oil prices keep mood cautiousBANGKOK (AP) _ Asian stock markets mostly posted muted gains Tuesday as high oil prices and Europe's lingering debt problems kept investor enthusiasm in check. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo fell 0.6 percent to 9,576.40, a day after struggling computer chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc. filed for bankruptcy _ the largest ever for a Japanese manufacturer.
Close but not quite for the Dow in push for 13,000The Dow Jones industrial average narrowly missed 13,000. Again. A burst of selling at the closing bell drove the Dow lower after it hovered around the milestone for most of the afternoon. The average finished the day down a sliver, 0.01 percent, and about 19 points shy of the mark.
S&P downgrades Greek debt to 'selective default'WASHINGTON (AP) _ Standard & Poor's has downgraded Greece's credit rating to "selective default" because of steps the country took last week to force its bond holders to accept steep losses. Greece is pushing private-sector holders of its debt to accept a massive bond swap. Under the swap, Greece would provide new bonds with less than half the face value of the original debt and at a lower interest rate. The swap would reduce Greece's debt load by $142 billion.
BP, plaintiffs focus on Gulf oil spill settlementNEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Nearly two years after his brother Gordon was killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, Chris Jones had planned to drive in from Baton Rouge with other relatives to attend the start of the federal trial over the nation's worst offshore oil disaster. But Jones learned Sunday that a judge had delayed the start of the trial from Monday to March 5 because oil giant BP PLC was making progress in settlement talks with a committee overseeing scores of lawsuits. Jones said he has mixed feelings about the prospect of a settlement, adding that he would be disappointed if BP manages to "write a check to solve their problems."
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