Business news briefs: New homes sales surge tapers

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Sales of new homes slipped slightly in November after a big surge the previous month. The figures add to evidence that the housing market is struggling to sustain the pace of its recovery. Sales dipped 2.1 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. In October, new-home sales had shot up 17.6 percent, the biggest monthly gain in more two decades. October's annual sales pace of 474,000 was the highest since July 2008. The annual pace of new-home sales remains well below the 700,000 generally consistent with a healthy market.

Durable goods orders jump

Businesses stepped up their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in November. And a key category that signals business investment plans climbed at the fastest pace in 10 months. The surge in orders for durable goods, which are products expected to last at least three years, was the latest evidence of a rebound in manufacturing. The gains will likely provide support for the economy into 2014. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that orders for durable goods jumped 3.5 percent last month compared with October, when they fell 0.7 percent.

Probe of light failures expands

U.S. safety regulators have expanded an investigation into rear light failures in Mercedes-Benz C-Class luxury vehicles. The probe now covers nearly 253,000 cars from the 2008 through 2011 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the stop, tail and turn signal lights can fail because of a melted electrical connector. The agency and Mercedes have received 402 complaints, including five fires and one injury. Mercedes also has 23,000 warranty claims that could be tied to the problem. No recall has been issued.

Fiscal hopes boost price of oil

The price of oil inched up above $99 a barrel Tuesday as hopes over the U.S. economy continued to drive up expectations over the country's demand for energy. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery was up 27 cents to $99.18 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices rose nearly 3 percent last week and are up around 7 percent so far in December. Additional worries over violence and instability in South Sudan have led some analysts to predict the contract may top $100 a barrel for the first time since mid-October.


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