Maine home sales drop 28 percent from May 2010

Statistics show that home sales in Maine fell 28 percent last month compared to a year earlier, while the median sales price dropped just over 2 percent.

The Maine Association of Realtors says real estate agents in May sold 784 existing single-family homes, down from 1,090 in May 2010. The median sales price was $165,700, down from $169,900.

Maine Association of Realtors President Mike LePage of Yarmouth says last year’s figures were boosted by tax incentives that carried through last June, but that last month’s sales numbers were still a disappointment. 

Ford to use bigger letters on inside controls of vehicles

Ford Motor Co. plans to use larger and bolder fonts for the text on many of its interior vehicle controls in order to make the characters easier to read — especially for aging baby boomers.

Starting next year, Ford will use fonts up to 40 percent larger, beginning with its Edge and Explorer sport utility vehicles and then moving on to other models, the automaker said Wednesday.

The new fonts were the result of a study Ford did involving some of its young engineers and local retirees. The automaker said it found that even small changes can make the words in its interior graphics easier for everyone to read, regardless of their age. 

TMX Group to pay special cash dividend after merger

TMX Group, owner of the Toronto exchange, said Wednesday that it will pay a special cash dividend of $4.11 per share when it closes its merger with the London Stock Exchange Group, sweetening the deal for shareholders of the Canadian stock market operator. 

Airbus says sale to India ‘biggest in aviation history’

Airbus said Wednesday it had received “the biggest order in aviation history” from Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo for its hugely successful new fuel-efficient A320neo jets.

The airline ordered 180 aircraft, including 150 A320neos. The remaining 30 aircraft will be Airbus’ standard A320 single-aisle short and medium haul jets.

The firm order follows a preliminary deal signed by the two companies in January. Airbus said then that the deal was worth $15.6 billion at list prices, though Airlines often negotiate discounts.

The order is the largest ever submitted to a single company in terms of planes. The previous record was an order by China’s Central Aircraft Sales Corp. for 150 aircraft each from Airbus and Boeing in 2005. 

Merck stops its effort to win FDA approval for MS drug

German drug maker Merck KGaA says it is dropping its approval bids for multiple sclerosis drug Cladribine and will take a $28 billion charge to earnings in the second quarter.

The company said it was dropping its applications for Cladibrine tablets based on responses from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, following similar feedback from regulators in Europe.

Merck said answering regulators’ requirements would have required new clinical trials lasting several years with no guarantee of approval.

It said ongoing clinical trials would continue. 

Investment firm settles fraud case for $200 million

Investment firm Morgan Keegan & Co. is paying $200 million to settle civil fraud charges that it overstated the value of mortgage investments just as the housing market was collapsing in 2007 and lured buyers of its funds with false sales materials.

Morgan Keegan’s parent company, Regions Financial Corp., also announced Wednesday that it hired investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co. to explore a sale of the investment firm.

Federal and state regulators said the actions of Morgan Keegan, based in Memphis, Tenn., caused investors in five funds to lose an estimated $1.5 billion.

According to regulators, Morgan Keegan failed to use “reasonable” procedures to calculate the value of securities in the funds backed by high-risk mortgages, the regulators said.

The firm misrepresented the value of the funds and the risk involved to entice people to invest, they said.

Half of the money will go toward compensating investors. 

Toyota says U.S. dealers will get more Prius cars this year

Toyota says dealers will see increased supplies of the hot-selling Prius hybrid later this summer.

A company statement issued Wednesday says U.S. dealers will get 75,000 more Priuses by the end of the year.

But the announcement was later withdrawn and a Toyota spokesman says the company can’t confirm how many of the hybrids will reach the U.S. by the end of the year. The Prius is built only in Japan.

Toyota says the statement was issued in error by a news release distribution company.

Priuses have been scarce due to a parts shortage caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But demand has been high since U.S. gasoline prices neared $4 per gallon.