UTILITIES

Dominion Energy profits

scrutinized in Virginia

Virginia's largest electric utility earned $277 million more in profits last year than what regulators say is reasonable and its customers could see huge bill increases in coming years, state regulators said Thursday in a new report.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission's report on Dominion Energy comes a year after it reported that the utility made more than $300 million in excessive profits in 2017.

Thursday's report said Dominion's return on equity, a measurement of profitability, was 4.27 percentage points higher in 2018 than what the commission said was fair. The data will likely intensify opposition from critics who already have said that the utility's prices are too high and political influence too great.

Dominion Energy is a major provider of natural gas utility service for Northeast Ohio customers.

 

REAL ESTATE

Pending home sales

slow down in July

Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in July, signaling that the housing market has yet to enjoy a strong bounce from lower mortgage rates.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its pending home sales index fell 2.5% to 105.6 in July. The index has slipped 0.3% from a year ago as uncertainty has mounted about the health of the economy. With trade tensions and fears of a possible recession intensifying, a robust job market hasn't been enough to strengthen sales.

 

SMARTPHONES

Apple widens network

for cracked screen fixes

Apple is loosening its grip on how its products are repaired to give customers more options for fixing cracked screens and other defects on their older iPhones.

Under the new policy announced Thursday, Apple will begin selling its tools and parts to more independent phone-repair shops in the U.S. Apple will expand that to other countries later. Repairs at these shops, though, will be limited to iPhones already out of warranty.

IPhones still under warranty must still be taken to an Apple store or one of more than 5,000 service providers that the company already has authorized worldwide.

 

RETAIL

Best Buy misses mark

for second-quarter sales

Best Buy Co. reported a sales shortfall for the fiscal second quarter and trimmed its annual sales forecast, blaming uncertainty surrounding an escalating trade war with China heading into the holiday shopping season.

Shares of the retailer fell 8% in afternoon trading Thursday.