Housing construction in August reached its highest level in five months. The number of new projects was a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2 million units, a 0.6 percent increase from July's level, the Commerce Department said. Housing construction increased in all regions of the country except for the West.
TD Waterhouse to Pay $2 Million Fine
TD Waterhouse Investor Services agreed to pay a $2 million civil fine to settle allegations that it made undisclosed payments to three investment adviser firms to lure their clients' business, the Securities and Exchange Commission said. Two of the investment advisers -- Kiely Financial Services and Rudney Associates -- and their principals settled charges that they did not disclose the payments. The SEC's administrative case against the third investment adviser -- Brandt, Kelly & Simmons -- is pending.
Nintendo said its $150 handheld Nintendo DS, left, will go on sale Nov. 21. Sony said a slimmer, reworked PlayStation 2, above left, would be introduced in North America on Nov. 1, for the same $149 price as its predecessor.
(Issei Kato -- Reuters)
Lucent Technologies is cutting benefits for thousands of its retirees for the second time in a year. The telecommunications equipment maker said it will no longer pay for health insurance for dependents of management workers who retired on or after March 1, 1990, at a salary of $65,000 or more. The cut affects 7,400 dependents; it takes effect Jan. 1.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, operator of the Sheraton, Westin and W Hotels brands, appointed former Coca-Cola Co. president and chief operating officer Steven J. Heyer as chief executive to succeed company founder Barry S. Sternlicht, effective Oct. 1.
Spain's second-largest bank said it has agreed to buy Laredo National Bancshares of Texas for $850 million in cash. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria said Laredo National will be integrated into its U.S. operations, which include Bancomer Transfer Services, a leading money-transfer company in the U.S.-to-Mexico market.
Adelphia Communications said it divided its cable systems into seven regional groups that will be sold in an auction. The company, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since June 2002, is selling its assets to raise the money to repay creditors, which are owed more than $18 billion.
Walt Disney Co. President Robert A. Iger is expected to be the only internal candidate to replace chief executive Michael D. Eisner when Eisner retires in September 2006, board Chairman George J. Mitchell said. The board will also interview outside candidates and hopes to name a successor by June 2005 who would work with Eisner in transition over the following year, Mitchell said.
PeopleSoft strengthened its ties with International Business Machines, hoping to boost its recently sagging sales as it continues to fight Oracle's $7.7 billion hostile takeover attempt. PeopleSoft and IBM agreed to make a $1 billion, five-year investment in a joint effort to make software applications run more cohesively while enabling customers to retrieve information from computers more efficiently.
Philip Morris USA, the world's largest cigarette maker, won a second reduction to what was once a $3 billion jury verdict. A California appeals court cut the award to $50 million, ruling that even the reduced amount of $100 million in punitive damages to the estate of Richard Boeken was excessive.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering civil action against American International Group and its AIG Financial Products unit, alleging violations of federal securities laws. AIG of New York, one of the world's largest insurers, said the SEC issued a so-called Wells Notice stemming from its investigation of AIG in 2002. Wells Notice recipients can respond to the SEC before it recommends actions against companies. AIG said the proposed action would be unwarranted.