Google’s answer to Facebook adds business

Google’s social networking service is now open for businesses. The expansion, announced Monday, is the latest feature on Google’s Plus service to imitate what’s already available on Facebook, the leading website for sharing with family, friends and businesses. Google Inc. unveiled Plus in late June to counter Facebook’s popularity and learn more about people’s interests. It hopes to gain insights that will help its dominant Internet search engine spit out more compelling results that keep people coming back to click on ads. Until now, Plus was open only to individuals. Google says more than 40 million people have Plus profiles. Facebook has more than 800 million users. In addition to companies, celebrities and sports teams will be able to set up Google Plus pages just as they can on Facebook.

Consumers borrow more for cars, college

Americans borrowed more in September to buy cars and attend college, but they charged less to their credit cards for a third straight month. The figures suggest that consumers are growing more cautious about taking on high-interest debt in a weak economy. Total consumer borrowing rose by $7.4 billion in September, the Federal Reserve said Monday. In August, it had fallen by the most in 16 months. The September increase reflected a 5.8 percent increase in borrowing in the category that includes car and student loans. But the category that covers credit card purchases dropped 1 percent after larger declines in July and August. Credit card use has sunk nearly 19 percent since September 2008, the height of the financial crisis.

Dish Network offers special dividend

Dish Network Corp. posted another loss of subscribers from its slowly dwindling satellite-TV business, even as larger competitor DirecTV adds to its base. Investors, however, were cheered by the announcement of a $2 per share special dividend. Dish shares rose $1.18, or 5 percent, to close at $24.66 Monday after rising as high as $25.15 earlier. The stock price reflects a calculation by investors that the dividend didn’t quite make up for the results, which missed analyst expectations. Dish declared a $2 per share special dividend in 2009.

Best Buy closes its British big box stores

Best Buy Co. Inc. said Monday that it will shut down its 11 big box stores in Great Britain and buy out Carphone Warehouse’s interest in a joint profit sharing agreement for $1.3 billion. The Richfield, Minn.-based company also said it will launch a new venture with Carphone Warehouse called “Global Connections” that will advise retailers around the world on how to boost performance of their mobile products businesses and services, in the mold of Best Buy Mobile. “Each of these actions represents an exciting growth opportunity for Best Buy and near and long-term value of our shareholders,” CEO Brian Dunn said in a statement.

From Herald news services