Business news

Oil price highest in more than 2 years


The price of oil climbed to its highest level in more than two years Wednesday as the U.S. edged closer to taking action against Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Benchmark oil for October delivery rose $1.09, or 1 percent, to $110.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

That’s its highest closing price since May 3, 2011.

Earlier, oil climbed as high as $112.24.

Political unrest in the Middle East and the threat of U.S. intervention in Syria have been big factors in the price increase.

Neither country is a major oil exporter, but traders are concerned that the violence could spread to more important oil-exporting countries or disrupt transport routes.

Pending home sales see slight decline

WASHINGTON — Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy U.S. homes in July, but the level stayed close to a 6 ½-year high. The modest decline suggests higher mortgage rates have yet to sharply slow sales.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales declined 1.3 percent to 109.5. That’s close to May’s reading of 111.3, which was the highest since December 2006.

The small decline suggests sales of previously owned homes should remain healthy in the coming months.

Final sales jumped to an annual pace of 5.4 million in July, the highest in 3 ½ years, the Realtors said last week. That’s consistent with a healthy housing market.

Botulism scare was likely false alarm

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND A botulism scare that damaged New Zealand’s international reputation for providing top-quality and safe dairy products was likely a false alarm.

Government officials said Wednesday that they had found no sign of botulism bacteria after retesting ingredients used in recalled products.

Dairy company Fonterra sparked a global recall of infant formula this month after announcing it had discovered the presence of botulism bacteria in some of its whey protein concentrate.But New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries announced Wednesday that its own extensive retesting indicated the presence of another, less dangerous type of bacteria.