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IN BRIEF

WASHINGTON

Job openings remain close to record lows, survey reveals

Job openings are at rock-bottom levels, according to government and private surveys released Tuesday, a trend that could keep the unemployment rate high even as layoffs slow.

There are about 6.1 unemployed workers, on average, competing for each job opening, a Labor Department report shows. That’s down slightly from 6.2 last month, the most since the department began tracking job openings nine years ago.

It’s a sharp increase from only 1.7 workers per opening when the recession began in December 2007.

The department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey said employers advertised about 2.5 million job openings at the end of September, up slightly from the previous month. That’s down from a peak of 4.8 million openings in June 2007.

ATLANTA

Beazer Homes posts first quarterly profit since 2006

Beazer Homes USA Inc. reported its first quarterly profit since 2006 on Tuesday and credited more stable home prices and cost cuts for a marked improvement in the homebuilder’s gross margins.

Beazer said net income for the period ended Sept. 30 was $33.8 million, or 84 cents per share, reversing a loss of $473.9 million, or $12.29 per share, a year earlier. Excluding discontinued operations, earnings amounted to 87 cents per share.

Revenue fell 42 percent to $376.3 million as completed sales tumbled 24 percent.

NEW YORK

Bear Stearns executives who ran hedge funds acquitted

Two Bear Stearns executives who ran hedge funds that collapsed after betting heavily on the shaky subprime mortgage market were acquitted Tuesday of lying to investors — a defeat in the government’s bid to punish fraud exposed by the financial crisis.

A jury in federal court in Brooklyn deliberated about eight hours over two days before finding Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin not guilty of conspiracy and other charges in an alleged scheme that cost 300 investors about $1.6 billion and nearly caused the demise of Bear Stearns itself. The firm avoided bankruptcy in a rescue buyout by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Both men had been charged with three counts of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Cioffi was also charged with insider trading.

Median home prices plunge in Las Vegas, Realtors group says

The National Association of Realtors on Tuesday said median home prices in Las Vegas fell almost 35 percent year over year in the third quarter, part of a trend in which prices fell in eight out of every 10 U.S. cities. Heavily discounted distressed sales made up 30 percent of all deals.

Las Vegas median prices fell to $138,500, the group said.

Median sales prices of existing homes fell in 123 out of 153 metropolitan areas compared with the same period a year ago. Prices rose in the other 30 cities.

The national median price was $177,900, or 11 percent below the third quarter last year.

Prices in Fort Myers, Fla., had the nation’s biggest median-price drop, plunging 40 percent to $98,000 from a year ago.

The largest price gain, by contrast, was in Cumberland, Md., where prices jumped 19 percent to $122,100. Davenport, Iowa, followed with an increase of 14 percent to $115,600.

Although median prices slid, sales climbed, with quarterly sales outpacing the second quarter and the previous year’s figures, the association said.

Oil prices decline after storm misses deep-sea platforms

Oil prices fell Tuesday as workers headed back to deep-sea platforms that were bypassed by a rapidly weakening storm in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ida, once a Category 1 hurricane, was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday and then lost even that status Tuesday as its winds lost their punch.

Producers like Royal Dutch Shell and Anadarko reported no damage to facilities and said flights bringing workers back to abandoned platforms and rigs would begin Tuesday.

Benchmark crude for December delivery fell 38 cents to settle at $79.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Prices at the pump slid overnight, falling 0.6 cents to $2.658 a gallon, auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service report.

Cosmopolitan developers face accusations from condo buyers

Developers of Deutsche Bank AG’s $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas modified interior designs more than 10 times and must pump around the clock to contain groundwater, condominium buyers allege in a lawsuit.

Cosmopolitan’s developers also misled apartment buyers about completion delays, added units, insufficient parking and changes to the builder contract, an amended complaint filed in Nevada shows. The car park and “underground facilities are under the existing water table, requiring 24-hour pumps and containment walls,” it alleges.

Nevada Property 1 LLC, the Deutsche Bank unit that took over the Cosmopolitan in a foreclosure, is offering buyers of West Tower units 74 percent of their deposit principal to walk away, documents show. The tower has 1,353 condo units and the settlement offer doesn’t apply to the other tower.

Many Wal-Marts to stay open overnight on Thanksgiving

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will leave most of its 833 U.S. discount stores open overnight on Thanksgiving to avoid crowds gathering to get specials the following morning after an employee was trampled to death a year ago.

Most of those stores will remain open after their regular closing hour of 11 p.m., letting customers stay inside to wait for the “Black Friday” special prices that start at 5 a.m., company spokesman David Tovar said Tuesday.

Wal-Mart developed plans for its stores to manage the flow of customers as they get in, seek merchandise, check out and leave on “Black Friday.” The store in Valley Stream, N.Y., where Jdimytai Damour, a temporary worker, was trampled on Nov. 28, 2008, is among those staying open overnight, Tovar said.

 

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