June 27 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street climbs for a second day as pending home sales and orders for durable goods ease fears of a slowing U.S. economy; Google unveils tablet in a crowded field unable to defeat the iPad. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Home is where the heart is for those looking for hopeful signs from the economy. Wall Street rallied a full percent before backing off those highs ahead of a euro summit. Signed contracts for home purchases matched a two-year high in May, which could mean higher sales of previously owned homes in the next month or two if buyers close the deal. The latest figures adding to data showing the housing market improved slightly in recent weeks. Lennar is adding to that optimism. Its shares closing at the highest in over a month after saying new orders rose for five straight quarters. Outside of housing, demand for costly items rose more than expected last month led by a pickup in aircraft orders and motor vehicles. Google is the latest company willing to fight over the tablet crumbs falling off iPad's table. Google kicked-off its annual developers conference with the Nexus 7, a 7-inch, $199 tablet. It's co-branded with Taiwan's Asus and takes aim squarely at the Amazon Kindle Fire, which by the way uses Google's Android software. Gambling on the hardware side in an attempt to lock users into the Google eco-system, which includes YouTube and Google+, may not be such a great idea, warns technology expert John Abell. SOUNDBITE: JOHN ABELL, TECHNOLOGY EXPERT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's almost like an Apple-esque quest to get into something that they very much believe in, which pay benefits for them at some point but doesn't really do anything directly for them now. They are definitely in the services business, the service business, so hardware helps with their services so if they tie up with good partners that know how to make hardware, know how to market them, know how to support their customers that's great." Google will begin shipping Nexus 7 in mid-July. European shares rallied nicely on the back of encouraging U.S. housing data but investors nervously await a euro zone summit later this week. Conway Gittens, Reuters