THE NATION'S FARMERS planted the largest soybean crop ever this year by devoting to the crop millions of acres that once grew corn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday. Farmers, mostly in the northern and central United States, planted 84.8 million acres of soybeans, nearly 11 percent more than last year's 76.5 million acres. Corn was planted on 91.6 million acres, nearly 4 percent less than last year's 95.4 million acres.
the number of signed contracts to buy homes shot up across the United States in May. But the pace of buying this year remains slower than in 2013, in part because of sluggish winter sales. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 6.1 percent to 103.9 last month. It was the sharpest month-over-month gain since April 2010. The index remains 5.2 percent below its level a year ago. Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one- to two-month lag usually exists between a contract and a completed sale. Lower mortgage rates and increased supplies of homes on the market drove much of the gains.
paint and coatings maker PPG Industries is buying Consorcio Comex SA de CV for $2.3 billion to help bolster its architectural coatings presence in Mexico and Central America. Comex makes coatings and related products in Mexico and sells them in Mexico and Central America. Pittsburgh-based PPG makes coatings, specialty materials and glass products. Privately held Comex, based in Mexico City, had 2013 sales of about $1 billion.
RETIREMENT PLANS covering roughly 1.5 million workers are severely underfunded, threatening benefit cuts for current and future retirees, a federal watchdog agency warned Monday. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation said multi-employer plans, which are collectively bargained retirement plans maintained by more than one employer, are most at risk. "Plan insolvencies ... are now both more likely and more imminent than in our last report," the report said. The agency also said single-employer pension plans — covering just over 30 million participants — are likely to remain firmer financial footing for at least the next 10 years.