Dollars & Sense

Money matters

Whether the market is up or down, you'll find a wealth of information about stocks, bonds and other financial matters at our new online finance section, You can even set up a watch list for the stocks you own or track.

Home sales slide

New home sales plunged in 2007 by the largest amount on record while home prices tumbled sharply in December. Analysts forecast more trouble in 2008 as housing tries to emerge from its worst slump in more than two decades. The Commerce Department reported Monday that sales of new homes dropped by 26.4 percent last year to 774,000. That marked the biggest decline on record, surpassing the old mark of a 23.1 percent plunge in 1980. The government reported that the median price of a new home barely budged last year, edging up a slight 0.2 percent to $246,900, the poorest showing since prices fell by 2.4 percent during the 1991 housing downturn.

Sears CEO quits

Sears Holdings Corp. abruptly announced the departure of President and Chief Executive Officer Aylwin B. Lewis on Monday, leaving a management void at the top of the department store chain controlled by Chairman Edward S. Lampert as it tries a high-stakes restructuring to reconnect with customers and reinvigorate slumping sales. Lewis was an executive at

fast food chain Yum Brands Inc. and had little retail experience. Monday's announcement marked the latest chapter for the venerable retailer, which has seen its competitors snatch away customers since Lampert acquired Kmart in 2003 and Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 2005.

Demos buck plan

Senate Democrats are working to expand a $150 billion economic stimulus package

in defiance of Bush administration warnings that changes to the proposal could derail it. Page D-4

Ag nominee OK'd

Former North Dakota Gov. Edward Schafer was confirmed unanimously as secretary of agriculture by the Senate on Monday. Page D-4

Coming Wednesday

The NorthPointe Shopping Center, along Pelandale Avenue east of Sisk Road in Modesto, will be adding to its lineup of stores with a new Save Mart Supermarket.