Sales up for new homes

Nationwide sales of new single-family homes rose 7.6 percent in May to reach the highest level in more than two years, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.

Purchases of newly built homes climbed to an annual rate of 369,000 last month from 343,000.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected new-home sales to rise to an annual rate of 348,000 in May, seasonally adjusted.

Low interest rates, warmer weather and attractive prices all helped. The median sales price fell 0.6 percent last month to $234,500.

Sales were 19.8 percent higher compared with May of last year. Still, the sale of new homes remains far below its pre-recession peak and reflects an industry trying to dig out from its worst slump in modern times.


Corn prices going up

Corn prices are skyrocketing as severe heat bakes crops in the Midwest. December corn jumped 7.2 percent Monday to finish at $5.94 per bushel.

The searing heat comes during a critical pollination period for corn. Analysts say the longer the fields go without rain, the more the crop may be damaged. That could leave corn supplies short heading into next year.

The potential for a smaller corn harvest is driving up the price of wheat on expectations that demand will pick up. Wheat also is used to feed livestock.


Verizon, T-Mobile make deal

Verizon Wireless agreed to sell some wireless spectrum rights to T-Mobile USA and swap others, in a continuing quest to get regulators to approve a bigger spectrum deal it has worked out with a consortium of cable companies and another wireless carrier.

The deal with T-Mobile USA would improve the ability of both companies to offer fast wireless data services, Verizon said. T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. wireless companies, is particularly starved for spectrum compared with its larger competitors, and regulators are likely to favor a deal that would improve its position.


Sony, Panasonic team up

Long-time Japanese rivals Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. are working together to develop next-generation TV panels called OLEDs in a reversal of decades of rivalry as they try to catch up with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics. The companies said they will share core technologies to develop OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, panels. They are aiming for low-cost mass production by 2013. Sony was the first in the world with an OLED TV, an 11-inch model in 2007, but it wasn’t a strong seller, partly because of its small size.

Sony buys liquid-crystal displays from other manufacturers. It ended its joint venture with Samsung to make LCDs earlier this year as panel prices fell and it became more cost-efficient to buy from other makers. Both Sony and Panasonic reported record losses for the fiscal year ended March 31.

Analysts say the Japanese could be hit by Apple Inc.’s foray into TVs that could come in a couple of years. Apple has already eroded the profitability of the Japanese electronics makers with its hit iPod, iPhone and iPad devices.


Nissan expands in China

Nissan said it will spend up to $800 million on a new factory in China’s northeast as part of efforts to expand sales in the world’s biggest auto market. The Japanese automaker said the factory in Dalian will have a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles by 2014. It will be Nissan’s fourth manufacturing center in China. Nissan announced an $8 billion expansion plan for China last year as part of a global strategy to focus on faster-growing emerging markets and reduce reliance on the United States.


Slowdown on Net changes

The organization in charge of creating hundreds of additional Internet address suffixes to rival “.com” has suspended the Web-based system it set up to help decide the order in which it will review new address proposals. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers shut the system indefinitely over the weekend after confirming reports of “unexpected results.” ICANN said network delays and the system’s response to “differing circumstances” caused problems. Even before the technical issues emerged, participants had complained that the system, described as digital archery, was overly complicated. People proposing a new suffix had to specify a target date and time, and then return to the website at that time to hit a “Generate” button.

Compiled from staff and wire reports