U.S. builders started work on more single-family homes in May and requested the most permits to build homes and apartments in 31/2 years. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on 3.2 percent more single-family homes in May, the third straight monthly increase. Overall housing starts fell 4.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000. But that was entirely because of a 21.3 percent plunge in apartment construction, which can be volatile.
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Barnes & Noble said Tuesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter loss narrowed to $57.6 million from $59.4 million a year earlier as the nation's largest bookseller continues to invest in its Nook e-reader business. Nook sales fell 11 percent to $164 million during the quarter as the company took back its Nook Simple Touch e-reader from retailers to make room for new inventory. But for the fiscal year, Nook sales rose 34 percent to $933 million.
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Walgreen will pay $6.7 billion in cash and stock to buy a stake in European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots, a deal that would give global clout to a U.S. drugstore chain struggling with slipping sales in its home market. The combination would create the largest single purchaser of prescription drugs in the world and give Walgreen access to emerging markets like China and Egypt.
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FISCAL FOURTH-QUARTER PROFIT FOR FEDEX, down from $558 million a year earlier, as revenue rose to $11 billion from $10.55 billion a year ago