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US Home Prices Continue to Climb
US home prices continued to pick up in July, according to a national index of values released Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's / Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed a 5 percent year-over-year jump, which was slightly higher than the previous month's 4.9 percent increase. The index showed rising prices in each of the 20 cities it tracks, led by a 10.4 percent surge in San Francisco and a 10.3 percent uptick in Denver. Improving wages and a steady economy have convinced more Americans to buy homes, prompting sales to reach an 8-year high in July.
Groupon to Cut 1,100 Jobs, Shutter 7 International Offices
Groupon once turned down a multi-billion dollar buyout offer from tech giant Google, but the company probably wishes it had another chance at the offer based on recent performance. The formerly promising tech firm revealed Tuesday that it will reduce its workforce by 10 percent and shut down operations in seven countries, laying off some 1,100 workers in the process. The announcement came via a blog post on Tuesday from the company's COO, Rich Williams. According to the post, jobs to be cut include customer service and international sales positions. Having already closed operations in Greece and Turkey, the company will now shutter offices in Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Thailand, and Uruguay, Williams said.
Volkswagen Emission Scandal May Affect 11 Million Cars Worldwide
Volkswagen admitted Tuesday that as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with software designed to trick emission tests, expanding a controversy that started last week in the US. The company did not specify where the vehicles in question are, though many were probably sold in Europe, a market that Volkswagen dominates by accounting for one of every four cars sold. The world's largest automaker announced it was setting aside about a half year's profits to cover costs associated with the controversy. Along with the costs of repairs to the affected vehicles, the company is also likely to face fines and damages from civil suits related to the deceptive emissions software.
Microsoft Discourages Use of Chrome & Firefox
Microsoft is using its new Windows 10 operating system to try and dissuade users from opting for Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox web browsers. When searching on the company's new Edge browser for either Firefox or Chrome, Windows 10 users see an ominous message saying: “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10,” with a “Learn Why” button next to it. Clicking the button brings up a Microsoft web page that shows off all the features of Edge. A spokesman for Microsoft noted that Edge was designed specifically for Windows 10, and the notifications are to alert people to all the browser's features, but also explained that users can still choose whatever default browser they want.
Stocks Plunge Again on Weak August Jobs Report
US stocks plummeted during Friday's session in response to the August jobs report, which showed the nation's lowest unemployment rate since the onset of the Great Recession but also showed less jobs created than economists were expecting. The Dow Jones lost nearly 300 points in the first half of the trading day, and all three major indexes had lost well over 1 percent as investors reacted to the mixed report. Despite the smaller-than-expected job creation number, investors are concerned that the drop in joblessness will convince the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates.
US Stocks Suffer Worst Month in Three Years
US stock markets fell slightly on Monday, wrapping up the worst month for US stock markets since 2012. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 6.6 percent in August, while the S&P fell 6.3 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slipped 6.9 percent during the month. The declines were driven by massive selloffs in recent days sparked by uncertainty about the Chinese economy. Investors have also been concerned that the Fed is getting ready to increase interest rates, which have been kept low since the onset of the recession.
Auto Union Slams GM Over China Production Speculation
Reports surfaced earlier this week that General Motors is considering importing its new Envision SUV from China, angering the United Auto Workers union (UAW), which blasted the automaker on Tuesday. The Envision is currently made in, and only available in China, but speculation has surfaced recently that the company might begin selling the model in the US. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the reports, but UAW officials were more than happy to share their thoughts. "After the sacrifices made by US taxpayers and the US workforce to make General Motors the profitable quality company it is today, UAW members are disappointed with the tone-deaf speculation that the Envision would be imported from China," commented UAW vice president Cindy Estrada. GM has also declined comment so far about speculation that GM is considering moving peoduction of other models to China.
Target Reaches $67 Million Settlement with Visa over 2013 Data Breach
Target Corp. has reportedly agreed to pay as much as $67 million to banks that issue Visa credit cards in a settlement over a 2013 incident in which hackers stole personal information for millions of card holders. The agreement only covers Visa-related firms, and Target is working on a similar agreement with Mastercard-issuing firms. The size of the two agreements should approach the $100 million settlement paid out by Heartland Payment Systems over a similar breach in 2008. In all, the breach at Target exposed some 40 million credit and debit cardholders during the 2013 holiday shopping season.
US Housing Starts Surge to 8-Year High
The US Commerce Department reported Tuesday that housing starts surged to a near eight-year high in July as the world's largest economy continues to improve. According to the report, housing starts rose 0.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.21 million units. That's the fastest pace of groundbreaking on new homes since October 2007. That marks the fourth straight month in which starts were over the one million unit pace, and was the fastest pace for starts since October 2007. The pace also exceeded the consensus projection from a group of economists in a recent Bloomberg survey, which called for a pace of 1.19 million units. Combined with recent positive readings on jobs, retail sales and manufacturing, Tuesday's report helps paint a picture of a US economy that is finally approaching pre-recession health.
Google Reveals Major Restructuring Plan
Google surprised investors this week by revealing a bold new restructuring plan under which a new parent company called Alphabet Inc. will be created. As a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google will continue to run the search giant's most notable businesses, like search, Android and YouTube, while various other ventures will be organized separately under the Alphabet umbrella. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page will oversee Alphabet, while Sundar Pichai will be assigned the role of CEO at Google. Check out a letter Page sent to Google employees, informing them of the restructuring, below.