Books-A-Million to buy Borders bookstore leases

The Books-A-Million bookstore chain has agreed to buy the leases of 14 Borders bookstores, including two in Maine, according to bankruptcy court documents.

Borders Group, the nation’s second largest bookstore chain, announced in July it was liquidating and going out of business.

Citing documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, the Bangor Daily News reported that Books-A-Million has agreed to buy the leases of stores in South Portland and Bangor, as well as in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio and New Jersey, for about $934,000. The South Portland and Bangor stores are still open.

The agreement must be approved by the court by Aug. 29.

Books-A-Million, based in Birmingham, Ala., has 232 stores in 23 states and Washington, D.C. 

Striking Verizon workers push up jobless numbers

Thousands of Verizon workers on strike pushed the number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week to its highest level in a month.

But excluding the work stoppage, layoffs appear to be stabilizing. That should help ease fears that the economy is on the verge of a recession.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 417,000, the Labor Department said.

But last week’s non-seasonally adjusted total included about 8,500 of those employees. About 12,500 striking workers filed claims two weeks ago.

About 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike Aug. 7. Unions representing the workers ended the strike earlier this week. 

Stock indexes fall sharply, ending three-day rally

Stock indexes fell sharply soon after trading began Thursday and then bounced around near their bottoms the rest of the day, ending a three-day rally.

Indexes in both the U.S. and Europe sank after Germany’s main stock index, the DAX, suddenly dipped 4 percent. Traders struggled to explain the dive. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 170.89 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 11,149.82. It had been up 85 points the first few minutes of trading.

The S&P 500 index fell 18.33 points, or 1.6 percent, to 1,159.27. The Nasdaq fell 48.06 points, or 1.9 percent, to 2,419.63. 

Several European nations extend short-selling ban

Several European countries that banned short-selling have extended the prohibition until the end of September.

When concerns about European banks’ exposure to Greek debt sent their stocks plummeting two weeks ago, market regulators in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy and Spain stepped in to prohibit traders from betting on the decline in a share’s price.

On Thursday, the countries extended the ban and said they would reconsider it at the end of next month. Greece’s ban expires in October.

Short-selling is a trade in which the investor sells stock without owning it in the hope of buying it back for a lower price. 

Delta buying 100 new jets to upgrade its aging fleet

Delta Air Lines says it’s buying 100 Boeing 737 jets as part of a fleet upgrade, with delivery set for 2013 to 2018.

The order announced Thursday is valued at $8.5 billion at list prices, although airlines often get discounts.

The 737-900 extended range aircraft from Boeing Co. have a single aisle and 180 seats. They have the range to fly on any of Delta’s current domestic routes.

The average age of Delta’s planes is 16 years. It has some Boeing planes that are less than two years old. But it also has planes that date back to the 1970s. They are the oldest commercial passenger planes flown today by a U.S. airline.

— From staff and news services