Home prices rise
in most regions
U.S. home prices climbed 12.4 percent in August from a year ago, fueled by more buyers bidding on a limited supply of houses.
Real estate provider CoreLogic says prices also increased 0.9 percent in August from July. But the gain was half the 1.8 percent increase in July from June. The group said higher mortgage rates and the end of the summer buying season likely slowed the gain.
Prices rose in every state compared with the previous year, and in 99 of the 100 largest cities. Akron, Ohio was the only area to report a decline.
Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since May. Some analysts worry that higher rates could slow home sales.
Auto sales sag
Sales fell at General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen in September, an odd month that appears likely to snap a 27-month streak of gains for the U.S. auto industry.
GM posted an 11 percent decline compared with a year ago as the company even reported falling sales of its redesigned full-size pickup trucks. Pickup truck sales have been a strong point for the industry as small businesses return to dealer showrooms. Volkswagen sales were off 12 percent, while Toyota sales were down 4 percent.
But Ford and Chrysler appeared to have outperformed the industry. Ford sales were up 6 percent, while sales at Chrysler rose 1 percent.
Labor Day weekend is typically strong for U.S. auto sales, and this year was no exception. But because the holiday came early, the auto industry counted all of that weekend’s sales in its August tallies. That means September’s sales will be missing the usual holiday boost.
Merck to shed
Merck & Co. plans to cut another 8,500 jobs as the drugmaker continues its struggle with competition from cheaper generic medications that have squeezed the pharmaceutical industry for several quarters now.
The New Jersey-based company said the reductions it announced Tuesday are in addition to a total of 7,500 cuts it had previously announced but hasn’t carried out. That means it is slashing about 20 percent of its workforce, currently at about 81,000 people.
Merck, the world’s third-largest drugmaker, said the restructuring will cost a total of between $2.5 billion and $3 billion before taxes, mainly due to employee severance costs. But it expects the moves to help generate annual savings of about $2.5 billion by the end of 2015.
It expects to realize $1 billion by the end of 2014. Most of savings are expected to come from marketing and administrative expenses and research and development.