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Business Briefs: Builders making slow comeback with apartments

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The depressed housing market has held the economy back for four years. No longer. Home construction has finally begun a gradual comeback and should add to the nation's economic growth in 2011, a turning point in the recovery from the Great Recession. The main reason appears to be a positive consequence of the weak economy: Apartments are being built almost twice as fast as two years ago. Renting is the only option for many people who have lost their jobs, their homes or both. Builders in November broke ground on homes -- houses and apartments alike -- at an annual rate of 685,000 units, the government said Tuesday. That was a 9.3 percent jump from October and the fastest pace since April 2010.
GM to honor some Saab warranties
General Motors says it will honor warranties of Saab cars that were sold in the U.S. and Canada while the Swedish automaker was part of GM. Cash-strapped Saab filed for bankruptcy in Sweden on Monday. The company has suspended warranty coverage for all vehicles in North America. GM said Tuesday it will cover the warranties if Saab doesn't. GM will pay warranty costs for about 48,000 Saabs in the U.S. and 9,000 in Canada. The cars are from the 2009 model year or older, except for a few 2010s in Canada. GM had been paying Saab for the warranty costs. Now it will pay dealers directly.
Fewer people to fly this holiday season
Fewer people will fly this holiday season, but flights will still be packed. That's according to a forecast released Tuesday by the main trade group representing U.S. airlines. Airlines for America predicts that about 43.3 million travelers will fly on U.S. carriers over the three-week holiday period, a 1 percent decline from a year earlier. That works out to about 20,000 fewer people per day. The trade group attributes the decline to "lingering economic concerns" and high energy prices that are limiting would-be travelers' disposable income. Even with fewer passengers, fliers won't have more room to stretch out. Flights will be full because airlines have reduced the number of flights and planes,
Google to fund four solar energy farms
Online search and advertising giant Google is teaming with investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. to develop four solar energy farms serving the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in California. Google, Inc. said Tuesday on its Green Blog that it will spend $94 million on the projects and work with KKR and solar developer Recurrent Energy, a division of Sharp Corp., on the projects. Construction on three of the projects will be complete early next year, and the fourth will come on line later in the year. The projects are expected to provide electricity to power more than 13,000 average U.S. homes. Electricity produced by three of the projects is contracted for 20 years with the utility district, Google said.
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