Business Briefs – March 22, 2016

Apple’s New iDevices Say: SMALL Is Beautiful, Too

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) – Apple is now contending that small can be beautiful, too.

The giant tech company showed off downsized versions of its signature iPhone and iPad Pro tablet on Monday, hoping they’ll appeal to first-time buyers and those who have shied away from the bigger-screen models Apple has sold in recent years.

Apple touted its new four-inch iPhone SE as the “most affordable” new phone the company has offered with a starting price of $400. The company also knocked $50 off the price of its Apple Watch, showed off some new bands for the wearable gadget, and announced some software enhancements for its mobile devices.

Starwood Battle to Have Little Impact on Price of Rooms

NEW YORK (AP) – Starwood said Monday it has accepted a sweetened $14.41 billion bid from Marriott, just days after a Chinese insurance company appeared to steal it away from the hotel chain with an offer valued at $14.15 billion.

The buyout would create the world’s biggest hotel company and give Marriott a stable of tony properties run by Starwood, like the St. Regis New York. Until shareholders of both companies vote on April 8, there could still be a counteroffer from China’s Anbang or a bid from another suitor.

Unlike the merger of airlines or office supply stores, this deal should have minimal impact on consumer choices or prices.

Data Providers HIS, Markit to Combine to Create $13B Company

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. data provider IHS is combining with Europe’s Markit to create a $13 billion company called IHS Markit.

The new company will be based in London, where Markit is currently based. Some operations will remain in Englewood, Colorado, where IHS is located, the companies said.

IHS Inc. shareholders will own about 57 percent of the combined company and Markit Ltd. shareholders will own about 43 percent.

U.S. Home Sales Slump in February; Supply Shortage Hits Market

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans retreated from home-buying in February, reversing months of prior gains as low inventories push up prices to levels that restrict sales.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes fell 7.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million.

The housing market enters the traditional spring buying season facing a quandary: There are relatively few properties listed for sale, even as steady job gains and low mortgage rates have bolstered demand from would-be buyers. The limited supplies have fueled rising prices that have, in turn, reduced affordability and limited sales levels.

Twitter Marks 10th Birthday Searching for Followers, Profits

NEW YORK (AP) – Happy birthday, Twitter. The social media site turned 10 years old Monday, having evolved from what was originally billed as a “microblogging” site into one of the Internet’s most influential means of communication.

But after a long streak of robust growth that turned it into one of the Internet’s hottest companies, Twitter’s expansion has slowed dramatically over the past year and a half. At the end of 2015, it had about 320 million active users.