Financial
Can classes yield a billion-dollar bracket? PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer   
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 06:20

So, about that billion dollars.

Warren Buffett looks at his offer to pay $1 billion to anyone who fills out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket as nothing more than a matter of having the numbers in his favor.

Mathematicians say he's right. That's still not stopping them from building a cottage industry by teaching bracket-fillers how to make the impossible seem possible — or a little less improbable.

Around a half-dozen college professors are offering special classes to teach people the ins and outs of the numbers that will, inevitably, work against them. And there's one website — takebuffettsbillion.com — that says it will send a unique, statistician-crunched bracket to anyone who signs up, with the promise that all those in on the gig will split the money if one of those brackets is the winner. (As of Monday, about 9,000 people had signed up.)

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Another GM recall: 1.18M SUVs for air bag issue PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writer   
Monday, 17 March 2014 13:15

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling more than 1.5 million vehicles, including SUVs, vans and Cadillacs, for defective air bags and other problems.

The new recalls come as GM faces multiple investigations over its handling of a recall of more than 1.6 million small cars for defective ignition switches. The new recalls aren't related to that issue, but the company did say they're part of a broad product safety review prompted by the ignition switch problem, which is linked to 12 deaths.

GM expects to spend approximately $300 million in the first quarter to repair the vehicles in the new recalls as well as the vehicles in the small car recall. GM announced last month that ignition switches in older models of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5s, Saturn Ion, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky need to be repaired.

The recalls announced Monday include:

— 1.18 million SUVs because their side air bags, front center air bags and seat belt pretensioners might not deploy if drivers ignore an air bag warning light on their dashboard. The recall includes the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia from the 2008-2013 model years; the Chevrolet Traverse from the 2009-2013 model years; and the Saturn Outlook from the 2008-2010 model years. GM says no injuries are related to the defect.

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U.S. homebuilder confidence edges higher in March PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ALEX VEIGA, AP Real Estate Writer   
Monday, 17 March 2014 13:37

U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the housing market edged higher this month, reflecting improved demand for new homes as the traditional spring home-selling season ramps up.

But the outlook for sales of single-family homes over the next six months dimmed slightly as builders continue to grapple with a shortage of skilled workers, ready-to-build land and rising building materials costs.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday rose to 47. That's up from February's reading of 46.

Readings below 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as poor rather than good.

The overall index had been above 50 from June through January, reflecting a strengthening housing market. The latest reading, based on responses from 296 builders, comes as the spring home-selling season gets going. The season typically sets the pattern for residential hiring and building construction in the ensuing months.

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Vodafone agrees to buy Spain's Ono for $10 billion PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DANICA KIRKA, Associated Press   
Monday, 17 March 2014 08:11

LONDON (AP) — British telecommunications company Vodafone agreed on Monday to buy Spain's Ono for 7.2 billion euros ($10 billion) as it seeks to expand operations across Europe.

The deal is part of a broader trend of mergers and takeovers in Europe, where the mobile industry is split among some 150 major operators crisscrossing national lines — compared to just four in the United States.

Grupo Corporativo Ono S.A. provides phone, mobile and television services to 1.9 million customers and has the largest "next-generation network" in Spain, reaching 7.2 million homes, or 41 percent of the country. Vodafone says Ono has abundant spare capacity, giving it space to expand.

"Demand for unified communications products and services has increased significantly over the last few years in Spain, and this transaction - together with our fiber-to-the-home build program - will accelerate our ability to offer best-in-class propositions in the Spanish market," Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said in a statement.

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