September home sales rise; median price falls

A real estate group says sales of single-family homes in Maine rose nearly 8 percent in September, while the median sales price fell by 6 percent.

The Maine Association of Realtors said real estate agents last month sold 967 homes, up from 899 in September 2010.

The median sales price of those homes was $159,000, down from $169,900 a year earlier.

For the three-month period from July through September, Maine home sales have gone up nearly 15 percent over last year. Home sales for the period increased in 15 of Maine’s 16 counties, with only Waldo County showing a decline.

Dead River to sell Maine convenience stores to Circle K

Dead River Co. is getting out of the convenience store business and selling its Maine stores to the Circle K convenience store chain.

Officials at South Portland-based Dead River said the company is selling the stores to focus on its core business of selling heating fuels.

Circle K is owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., a Canadian company that operates nearly 5,800 convenience stores.

The sale and switchover of Dead River’s 19 stores, which stretch from Brunswick to Caribou, is expected to be completed in December.

Groupon’s IPO faces several daunting market challenges

A Chicago-based startup that pioneered online daily deals for coupons is discounting its expectations for the IPO that in June was valued as high as $25 billion.

Groupon’s IPO was one of the most anticipated offerings this year. But in June, after Groupon filed for the offering, the Securities and Exchange Commission raised concerns about the way it counts revenue. Then the stock market plunged.

Now Groupon faces concerns about the viability of its business model. The novelty of online coupons is wearing off. Some merchants say they are losing money — and customers — on the deals. And competitors are swarming the marketplace.

Last year, Groupon turned down a $6 billion buyout from Google.

Groupon is expected to go public Nov. 4. The company could not comment for this story due to the quiet period for its IPO, during which time company officials are barred by regulators from discussing anything about the firm.

Stock market up; Dow posts fourth-straight weekly gain

A broad rally swept through the stock market Friday after McDonald’s and several other large companies reported solid earnings. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed higher for the third straight week, its best run since February, as hope builds that a weekend meeting will bring European leaders closer to easing the region’s debt troubles.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 267.01 points, or 2.3 percent, to 11,808.79. The Dow is now up 2 percent from where it started 2011. Before Friday’s surge, it was down for the year. The Dow has risen for four weeks straight, the first time that has happened since January.

The combination of stronger earnings, better economic news and a sense that European officials were taking the debt crisis more seriously have helped lift stocks, said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors.