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Last Update on July 28, 2014 17:07 GMT

PENDING HOME SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in June, as the real estate market appears to have cooled off this summer.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index slipped 1.1 percent to 102.7 last month. The index remains 7.3 percent below its level a year ago.

Sales have been slowed by a mix of meager wage growth, rising home prices, and mortgage rates that rose steadily through the end of last year.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.

Signed contracts in June fell in the Northeast and South. They rose slightly in the Midwest and West. Pending sales in all four U.S. regions are below last year's pace.

SOCIAL SECURITY-MEDICARE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says Medicare's finances have improved. The program's hospital trust fund won't be exhausted until 2030 -- four years later than last year's estimate.

Social Security's massive retirement program will remain solvent until 2034, although disability benefits are in more immediate danger.

The disability trust fund is now projected to run dry in 2016. At that point, the program will collect enough taxes to pay 81 percent of benefits.

In 2030, when the hospital trust fund is projected to be depleted, Medicare will collect enough payroll taxes to pay 85 percent of benefits.

Medicare's improved finances are largely due to a slowdown in health care spending.

DOLLAR TREE-FAMILY DOLLAR

NEW YORK (AP) -- Dollar Tree is buying rival discount store Family Dollar in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $8.5 billion.

Stockholders of Family Dollar Stores will receive $59.60 in cash and the equivalent of $14.90 in shares of Dollar Tree for each share they own. The companies put the value of the transaction at $74.50 per share.

The boards of both companies have unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close by early next year.

Shares of Family Dollar Stores Inc., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, spiked 20 percent before the opening bell Monday. Shares of Dollar Tree Inc., based in Chesapeake, Virginia, are up almost 4 percent.

DETROIT BANKRUPTCY

DETROIT (AP) -- One of the companies challenging Detroit's bankruptcy plan says the possible value of the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection is $8.5 billion -- a figure that's higher than previous estimates.

The company also says the city owns or controls as much as $1.2 billion in real estate, including vacant property and homes that could be foreclosed upon.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report an art consultant for Financial Guaranty Insurance estimated the DIA collection is worth almost double a previous estimate.

New York-based Artvest Partners LLC said earlier this month that art eyed for sale by some creditors could be worth more than $4.6 billion, but likely would fetch a quarter of that or less in a forced liquidation.

A trial over Detroit's bankruptcy plan starts Aug. 14.

VIRGIN AMERICA-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Virgin America's next destination is Wall Street.

The California-based airline filed today for an initial public offering of shares.

Virgin America Inc., which operates out of Los Angeles and San Francisco, flies to 22 airports in the United States and Mexico and has a fleet of 53 planes. The company offers a variety of perks, such as live TV, movies, leather seats and purple mood lighting.

For the purpose of the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it could raise as much as $115 million, but that number is likely to change.

The company did not say when it expects the IPO to happen or how many shares it plans to sell.

BRITAIN-US-LLOYDS

LONDON (AP) -- Lloyds Banking Group is paying $369 million to U.S. and British authorities to settle allegations it manipulated a key global interest rate.

Lloyds, one of the world's largest banks, has become the sixth financial firm sanctioned in the international rate-rigging scandal. The U.S. and British regulators say Lloyds tried to manipulate, and in some cases succeeded, in manipulating the London interbank offered rate, known as LIBOR.

The LIBOR, the rate used by banks to borrow from each other, affects trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages, bonds and consumer loans.

Under an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, Lloyds will be allowed to avoid criminal prosecution in exchange for admitting responsibility for misconduct and continuing to cooperate in the investigation of major banks' actions regarding LIBOR.

RUSSIA-YUKOS

LONDON (AP) -- The former majority shareholder in Yukos Oil Company says it has won in excess of $50 billion in a court ruling against Russia.

One of the largest arbitration cases ever, the claim was filed by a subsidiary for GML Ltd., formerly Group Menetap Ltd., a financial holding company that was once the biggest shareholder in Yukos.

It sought $103.5 billion from Russia as compensation for the expropriation of Yukos.

Former Chief Executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky had built Yukos into Russia's largest investor-owned oil company after the unraveling of the Soviet Union.

GML says the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the Russian Federation sought to bankrupt Yukos and appropriate its assets and that it was determined to do whatever was necessary to achieve this purpose.

TYSON FOODS-BUSINESS SALE

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) -- Tyson Foods plans to sell its poultry businesses in Mexico and Brazil for $575 million in cash to help pay debt from its recently announced acquisition of Hillshire Brands.

The Springdale, Arkansas, meat processor says it still plans to expand its international operations, especially in Asia, but the businesses it will sell didn't have the scale to gain leading positions in their markets.

Tyson made the announcement the same day it reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that climbed more than 4 percent but missed analyst expectations.

Tyson says its third-quarter earnings climbed to $260 million, or 73 cents per share, from $249 million, or 68 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Revenue climbed 11 percent to $9.68 billion.

APPLE-BEATS

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's antitrust authority has cleared Apple's $3 billion deal to buy Beats Electronics, which makes headphones and offers music streaming services.

The 28-nation bloc's executive Commission says the transaction does not threaten competition because the firms' combined European market share in both fields will be low while facing strong competitors.

The takeover of Beats Electronics and Beats Music announced in May for $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock is the most expensive acquisition in Apple's 38-year history.

The move to buy Beats, founded by rapper Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, was widely seen as a bid to counter the increasing threat posed by music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify to Apple Inc.'s iTunes store.

SKOREA-SAMSUNG-TIZEN

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Samsung Electronics Co. says it's delaying sales of its first Tizen-powered smartphone. It's the latest setback to the company's ambition to create a mobile platform to rival Google's Android or Apple's iOS. Samsung had planned to start selling the phone, the Samsung Z, in Russia this quarter. But the company indicated that more time is needed to expand Tizen's following of app developers and apps.

Samsung says the postponement is to further enhance the Tizen "ecosystem," which encompasses developers, consumers and devices using the mobile OS.

The delay is a blow to Samsung's push to reduce reliance on Google's Android operating system, which powers Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

Samsung has not announced a new release date.

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