SC business notebook

January 26, 2013 

New home sales up 20 percent in 2012

Sales of new U.S. homes cooled off in December compared with November but for the entire year were the best since 2009. The Commerce Department said Friday that new-home sales fell 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That’s down from November’s rate of 398,000, which was the fastest in 21/2 years. For the year, sales rose nearly 20 percent to 367,000. That’s the most since 2009, although the increase is coming off the worst year for new-home sales since the government began keeping records in 1963. Sales are still below the 700,000 level that economists consider healthy.

Ingredient being removed from Gatorade

PepsiCo Inc. is removing a controversial ingredient from its Gatorade sports drink in response to customer complaints. A spokeswoman for the company, Molly Carter, said Friday that the move was in the works for the past year after the company began “hearing rumblings” from consumers about the ingredient. She said it wasn’t a response to a recent petition on Change.org by a Mississippi teenager. The ingredient is also listed in other drinks, including some flavors of Powerade, made by rival Coca-Cola Co. The Atlanta-based company did not say whether it would remove the ingredient from Powerade as well but noted that it takes customers’ concerns into account when looking for ways to improve its drinks. The petition on Change.org noted that the ingredient, brominated vegetable oil, has been patented as a flame retardant and is banned in Japan and the European Union. It had more than 200,000 supporters Friday. Carter noted that the ingredient is not banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and that the decision wasn’t the result of any health or safety concerns.

Verizon sells airspace to AT&T

Verizon Wireless says it’s selling space on the airwaves to AT&T in exchange for $1.9 billion and the transfer of some airwave rights from AT&T. The sale of spectrum rights will let AT&T Inc. expand its capacity for wireless broadband in areas that include Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City and Cincinnati. In return, it’s getting other frequencies in Los Angeles, Fresno, Calif., Phoenix and Portland, Ore. Verizon is also selling North Carolina spectrum licenses covering Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh to Grain Management, a private-equity firm, for $189 million.

Subway apologizes for coming up short

Subway is apologizing that its “Footlong” sandwiches fell short of expectations. The world’s largest fast-food chain faced widespread criticism last week after a man posted a photo online showing a “Footlong” next to a tape measure that showed it to be just 11 inches. Subway said Friday that it’s redoubling efforts to “ensure consistency and correct length” in all its sandwiches. The company had already noted last week that bread length could vary when franchisees don’t bake to its exact specifications and that it would reinforce policies to ensure consistency. In a statement Friday, Subway expressed “regret” for “any instance where we did not fully deliver on our promise to our customers.” It declined to comment on lawsuit filed this week by two New Jersey men over the subs.

The Associated Press contributed.

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