Consumer confidence drops
Consumer confidence about business conditions and the labor market fell more than expected in July, according to a new report. The consumer confidence index stood at 46.6, down from 49.3 in June, according to a report this morning by the New York-based Conference Board.

US home prices post a rise for the first time in three years
Home prices have seen their first monthly increase in nearly three years, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report published Tuesday. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index rose 0.5 percent from April, the first monthly gain since July 2006 and biggest since May of the same year, the group said today in New York.

Bank of America to cut branches
The largest U.S. bank on Tuesday said it plans to reduce the size of its U.S. branch network over the next three to five years. As of June 30, the Charlotte based bank had 6,109 branches, down 30 from December's number of 6,139.

Top futures exec urges caution on market rule changes
Measures to regulate markets often fail to reach their objectives and could lead to unintended consequences that the market could find, the chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange told Reuters on Tuesday. He said the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission could increase market volatility and distort pricing functions unless its measures were thoroughly vetted.

IBM buys statistics firm for $1.2 billion
IBM Corp. said Tuesday it plans to acquire SPSS Inc., a technology services company that helps businesses predict future trends and observe consumer patterns and behavior, for $1.2 billion.

Viacom Inc Profit Falls
Viacom Inc, the New York-based media company, reported that profit in the second quarter fell 32 percent to $277 million, or 46 cents per share. Excluding charges, it earned 49 cents per share, beating Wall Street expectations, according to Reuters Estimates. Revenue was down 14 percent to $3.3 billion, a fall greater than expected.

Apple rumored to release media tablet in September

Leaked rumor reports from the Chinese Apple Daily suggest Apple is set to launch the Apple media tablet - aka the Apple Media Pad - in September, with analysts and traders agreeing. This media tablet will accomplish three things without cannibalizing the Macs: First it will be an e-reader that serves as a newspaper/magazine/book replacement, second it will be even more ideal than the iPhone for those who want to play games, watch movies, and use the apps from the app store. Read Full Article here.

Sprint invests in prepaid wireless
Sprint Nextel Corp, seeking to boost its position in the prepaid wireless market, said on Tuesday it will buy Virgin Mobile USA for $483 million, its 13.1 percent stake in the small wireless carrier.

Ontario wants Nortel division sale stopped

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is pressing the Canadian government to block the proposed $1.13 billion acquisition of Nortel Networks Corp's wireless division. Duncan told the paper the Ontario government, which is spending billions of dollars to encourage development of high-technology companies, is dismayed that a foreign company would benefit from Nortel's assets. Read Full Article here.