Silicon Valley firms reach settlement in hiring dispute

The U.S. Justice Department said Friday it has reached a proposed settlement with Adobe Systems Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., Intuit Inc. and Walt Disney Co.’s Pixar on the companies’ agreements not to solicit each others’ workers for employment.

“The agreements challenged here restrained competition for affected employees without any pro-competitive justification,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Molly Boast said in a statement.

The Justice Department said it filed a complaint related to the agreements in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alongside the proposed settlement, which would bar the firms from agreeing not to poach each others’ employees for five years.


No rise in new home sales, housing market still sluggish

Sales of new homes were flat in August at the second-lowest level on record as the housing market continues to struggle after government tax breaks ended in April.

Sales in August held steady at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 288,000, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Only the sales rate recorded in May, which has been revised down to 282,000, was a slower sales pace.

Compared with August 2009, last month’s sales were off 28.9 percent.

Netflix signs deal to offer TV shows as online streaming

Netflix has reached a deal with NBC Universal to put “Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Monk” and other TV shows on its online instant streaming service, the companies announced Friday.

The Los Gatos, Calif., online DVD rental pioneer’s “Watch Instantly” service is available for customers in the U.S. who pay at least $8.99 a month to get discs by mail and watch online.

Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. Wall Street investors, though, applauded the deal, sending Netflix shares up to as much as $167.12 early Friday, an all-time high.

The agreement includes all episodes of “SNL,” including day-after-broadcast viewing for the next three seasons. Most other shows, however, will be from previous seasons.


Hertz standing firm on offer of $1.4 billion for rival group

Hertz Global Holdings Inc. on Friday said it won’t budge on its $1.44 billion bid to buy fellow car-rental company Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group after Avis Budget Group Inc. sweetened its offer a day earlier.

“Our agreement with Dollar Thrifty provides its shareholders with a substantial premium, deal certainty and a clear path to deal closure by year end, Hertz Chairman and CEO Mark Frissora said.

“We have made our best and final offer, and we believe that it is in the best interest of Dollar Thrifty shareholders to vote in favor of the transaction on Sept. 30,” he added, pointing out that his company, unlike Avis, has antitrust clearance in Canada.


Three credit-union lenders are taken over by regulators

Federal regulators took over three key lenders to U.S. credit unions, after losses on mortgage investments threatened to topple them. The move was a reminder that parts of the financial system are still burdened by the toxic assets two years after the financial crisis peaked.

The National Credit Union Administration voted Friday to place into conservatorship three corporate credit unions: Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union of Warrenville, Ill; Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union of Plano, Texas; and Constitution Corporate Federal Credit Union of Wallingford, Conn.

Conservatorship allows the government to run the companies, which will be shuttered, and their parts sold off to recoup losses.

Corporate credit unions provide wholesale financing and investment services for the more than 7,000 U.S. credit unions. Most retail credit unions remain healthy, and will continue operating as normal.


Bernanke: Recovery is slow, still needs help from the Fed

The economy is recovering from a deep recession more slowly than anticipated and still needs help from the Federal Reserve, Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday.

The Fed’s efforts to pump up the economy and lower unemployment have fallen short, Bernanke indicated in remarks at a conference at Princeton University in New Jersey, where he once taught economics.

“Although financial markets are for the most part functioning normally now, a concerted policy effort has so far not produced an economic recovery of sufficient vigor to significantly reduce the high level of unemployment,” Bernanke said.


Shipbuilder’s plan creates hurdle in Navy contract talks

A Navy Department official says Northrop Grumman Corp.’s plan to exit military shipbuilding has complicated contract negotiations with the Navy.

Assistant Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, speaking in Gulfport, Miss., on Friday, said the problem is that the Navy is negotiating a contract for future ships with a company that won’t be carrying out the pact.

Northrop Grumman recently announced that it is studying “strategic alternatives” for its shipbuilding division, including spinning it off into a separate company.