Pacific Northwest's Web site suffered sporadic outages Monday, just days after unspecified issues knocked the Seattle-based online...

Share story’s Web site suffered sporadic outages Monday, just days after unspecified issues knocked the Seattle-based online retailer offline for more than two hours.

Keynote Systems, a California company that monitors Web site performance, said the latest troubles started shortly after 10 a.m. Seattle time and lasted at least an hour.

Keynote’s automated probes were able to reach the main Amazon site as little as 30 percent of the time. Even when the monitors did reach the site, they faced delays, said Shawn White, Keynote’s director of external operations.

The probes also found problems with the British site, but other country-specific sites appeared to be functioning, White said.

Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith described Monday’s troubles as “intermittent” and said they did not affect Amazon Web Services, a separate offering that provides pay-as-you-go data storage to other companies.

On Friday, Amazon’s site shut down for more than two hours during the business day, giving an error code to anyone visiting it.

Outages at Amazon are rare. Smith said she could not speculate on how the latest outages affected sales.


Medical-records program expands

Microsoft has joined with Kaiser Permanente, the biggest U.S. nonprofit health-management organization, to expand its HealthVault online medical-records program.

Kaiser will offer 156,000 of its employees the opportunity to test the new program, which will combine Kaiser’s online health records with Microsoft’s applications for monitoring weight, allergies and other medical data, the companies said Monday.

The arrangement pits Microsoft against Google’s Google Health program and Web-site operators such as Health Records Online. Microsoft doesn’t charge for the service, which may draw more traffic to its Web sites, said Peter Neupert, vice president of Microsoft’s health-solutions group.

Federal Reserve

Risk of “substantial downturn” fades

Despite a recent spike in the nation’s unemployment rate, the danger that the economy has fallen into a “substantial downturn” appears to have waned, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday.

Addressing a Fed conference in Chatham, Mass., on Monday night, Bernanke said a government report last week showing the unemployment rate rising from 5 percent in April to 5.5 percent in May — the biggest one-month jump in two decades — was “unwelcome.”

However, he said other forces should “provide some offset to the headwinds that still face the economy.”

Real estate

Pending sales rise for homes in April

Pending home sales unexpectedly rose in April to the highest reading since October, an industry group said Monday, but experts say the large proportion of distressed property sales will continue to weigh down prices.

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes rose to 88.2 from a March reading of 83.0, the lowest since the index was started in 2001.

However, it’s still 13 percent below April 2007’s reading of 101.5.

Global Insight economist Patrick Newport noted that inventory remains at record highs and is growing, especially in the West, specifically Nevada and California.

In the Midwest, the index jumped 13 percent, while the South index posted a 4.6 percent gain. Only the Northeast index registered a decline of 1.9 percent.


Giant land group files for Chapter 11

A 15,000-acre California real-estate partnership that has the nation’s largest public employees pension fund as a big investor has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

LandSource Communities Development’s assets include 15,000 acres of undeveloped land north of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita Valley, among the largest land deals to falter amid the national housing glut.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), an investor in the partnership that provides pension, health care and other retirement services for about 1.5 million public employees, did not immediately return calls Monday.


Visa, MasterCard face $6 billion suit

Discover Financial Services is seeking $6 billion in damages in a 2004 lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard over anticompetitive rules Discover claims limited its growth, according to documents unsealed Monday.

Discover, formerly a unit of Morgan Stanley, sued Visa and MasterCard in 2004, seeking damages for rules imposed by the credit-card giants that allegedly precluded their member banks from issuing credit and debit cards over the Discover network.

Last year, Visa agreed to pay American Express $2.25 billion to settle a similar case.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News