ROUND-TRIP AIRFARES GO UP, UP AND AWAY: Two of the nation's biggest airlines boosted round-trip fares by as much as $50 heading into the weekend, raising the stakes in their fight against rapidly rising fuel costs and putting pressure on competitors to follow suit. United Airlines, the second-largest U.S. carrier, led the latest round of increases late Thursday, hours after crude oil prices surged to a record $111 a barrel. Continental Airlines Inc. matched the increases Friday. Two other carriers said they were studying the move. United spokesman Robin Urbanski said the higher fares are based on the length of flights, so trips under 500 miles will cost $4 to $10 more round-trip.
GM RECALLS BUICKS, PONTIACS: General Motors Corp. is recalling 207,542 Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix sedans because of a risk they could catch fire, and warned their owners not to park the cars in garages until they are fixed. The automaker said Friday it is recalling the 1997-2003 Buick Regal GS and Grand Prix GTP models with 3.8-liter supercharged V-6 engines. During hard braking, drops of oil can leak from the engine onto the exhaust manifold, and fires can start if the oil gets hot enough, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site. For more information, go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site at www.nhtsa.gov or the GM Web site at www.gm.com.
YAHOO MEETS WITH MICROSOFT: Microsoft Corp. met with Yahoo Inc. to discuss the software maker's unsolicited takeover bid earlier this week, a breakthrough that could be the first step toward a friendly deal between the two rivals. The meeting occurred Monday near Yahoo's Sunnyvale headquarters, according to a person familiar with the situation. No investment bankers attended Monday's meeting, nor was there any discussion about whether Microsoft is willing to raise its offer, initially valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 per share. Yahoo's board has rejected that bid, arguing the company's Internet franchise is worth more.
FLYING SAUCER HOUSE FOR SALE: A mountainside house being auctioned in Tennessee is perfect for anyone tolerant of gawkers and fascinated with outer space: It's built like a flying saucer. The home "landed" on a twisting road leading to Chattanooga's Signal Mountain in 1970. It will be sold to the highest bidder today. The circular house is ringed with small square windows and directional lights and perched on six "landing gear" legs. Terry Posey, an agent with Crye-Leike Auctions of Cleveland, Tenn., said the current owner has had the property only four months and didn't want to comment. Posey posted an e-Bay auction and said he already has a $100,000 bid.
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MORTGAGE LAW REFORM PROPOSED BY HUD: Prospective home buyers would get easier-to-understand information on mortgage terms and save an average $700 in closing costs under a proposal unveiled Friday by President Bush. The proposed overhaul of a 1974 law requiring lenders to give what's called a "good faith estimate" is aimed at making it simpler for consumers to comparison shop when they buy a house or refinance a mortgage. "A lot of the mortgage problems we see today are directly related to the fact that few people understand (the mortgage lending) process," Alphonso Jackson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in a statement. HUD's proposed revision to the 34-year-old Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act would mandate a federal disclosure form to be given to consumers who refinance a mortgage or borrow to buy a home. The form is simpler than private-industry disclosure forms, which can vary widely from state to state. It includes a summary of loan terms, interest rate and monthly payment, whether the interest rate and principal balance can increase and by how much, whether the loan has a prepayment penalty or balloon payment, settlement costs and other details.
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$270.7 billion: Gross revenue from goods and services sold at live auctions, according to the annual report compiled by Morpace Inc. on behalf of the National Auctioneers Association.
$58.4 billion: Amount generated by the real estate auction market, one of the fastest-growing auction sectors in 2007.
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