Biz briefs

Pending home sales index posts decline


WASHINGTON --- Pending U.S. home sales fell more than expected in July as the housing market's struggles continued, an industry group said Tuesday.

The National Association of Realtors said its seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes fell 3.2 percent to a reading of 86.5 from an upwardly revised June reading of 89.4. The index was 6.8 percent below year-ago levels.

Home sales are considered pending when the seller has accepted an offer, but the deal has not closed.

Enron shareholders, investors split billions

HOUSTON --- Enron Corp. shareholders and investors will split about $7 billion from financial institutions accused of participating in the fraud that caused the once-mighty energy company to collapse.

The settlement amount was listed at $7.2 billion, a sum that has been accruing interest since 2002 and includes $688 million plus interest in attorneys fees.

The deal, approved late Monday by U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, and the attorneys fees are the largest in history in a U.S. securities fraud case.

About 1.5 million individuals and entities will be eligible to share in the distribution under the settlement plan.

In other news

EIGHT STUDENT LOAN companies agreed to adopt a code of conduct that bans deceptive marketing practices, such as offering prizes to students who sign up for loans, after an investigation by the state of New York.

REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC. and its tobacco unit, R.J. Reynolds, said Tuesday that they would cut about 570 jobs, or 10 percent of their American work force.