Pacific Northwest Microsoft will be saturating the airwaves with ads for its products this fall.

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Microsoft will be saturating the airwaves with ads for its products this fall.

In addition to the high-profile campaign for Windows, the company began its biggest Xbox advertising push to date over the weekend.

Microsoft is targeting casual gamers with the campaign, under the theme “Live your Moment.” Microsoft’s game-console rival Nintendo has become the leader with its Wii system by appealing to a broader audience.

Microsoft’s Xbox ads are running on television shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Dancing with the Stars,” as well as on billboards, in print and online.

The company said the campaign will be larger than the launch of the original Xbox, the Xbox 360 and the game “Halo 3,” but a specific budget was not disclosed.

Microsoft is reportedly spending $300 million on its Windows campaign.


Microsoft expands bus service for staff

Microsoft is expanding the bus service it launched a year ago to ferry employees from communities around the region to its main Redmond campus.

The company is adding Connector service to nine new areas: Redmond Ridge, Monroe, Snohomish/Woodinville, West Seattle, Columbia City/Mount Baker, Leschi/Madrona/Madison Park, Maple Valley, South Everett and Kent/Tukwila-Renton.

In its first year, the Connector has been used by 8,650 employees for more than 380,000 rides. It has helped reduce the rate of single-occupancy-vehicle trips to Microsoft from 66 percent to 62 percent, according to the governor’s Commute Smart program, which recognized the company’s efforts.


Starbucks to open stores in Portugal

Starbucks said it will open its first store in Portugal on Sept. 30 and one more by year-end.

The first store will be located in a shopping center in Alfragide, outside Lisbon, the Seattle-based retailer said Tuesday. The second will be in the Lisbon neighborhood of Belem, an area that attracts many tourists.

The Portuguese operation is a joint venture of Starbucks and Grupo VIPS, which operates restaurants in Spain. The companies are also partners in operating Starbucks stores in Spain and France.


Oatmeal breakfast a hit for Starbucks

Starbucks said the new oatmeal breakfast is its most successful food introduction.

Hot oatmeal, served with mixed nuts, dried fruit or brown sugar, is part of the company’s new “healthy breakfast” introduced earlier this month. Among food items, it’s one of the most profitable items and the company’s biggest seller, Michelle Gass, the company’s senior vice president of marketing, said Tuesday.

“We believe we hit a home run, and we’re at the beginning,” Gass said.


Buffett investing in Goldman Sachs

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is investing at least $5 billion in Goldman Sachs, in a move that could bolster confidence in the financial markets.

The announcement Tuesday from Goldman involves preferred stock that carries a dividend of 10 percent.

Until now, Buffett, who has navigated the stock market with legendary prowess, has largely refrained from investing in the stricken financial industry, saying repeatedly that things could get worse.

Thousands of people on and off Wall Street follow Buffett’s moves, so his decision to invest in Goldman immediately heartened investors.


AIG wraps up deal for Fed billions

American International Group says it has completed the deal under which it is getting an $85 billion injection of taxpayer money, while the government gets an 80 percent stake in one of the world’s largest insurers.

New York-based AIG said late Tuesday it signed a definitive agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for the deal reached earlier this month.

The agreement provides a two-year $85 billion emergency loan at an interest rate of about 11.5 percent to AIG. In return, the government will get a 79.9 percent stake in AIG.

The insurer said it will repay the money in full with proceeds from the sales of some of its assets.

Real estate

Home prices fall record 5.3 percent

Nationwide home prices in July fell a record 5.3 percent compared with a year ago, a government agency said Tuesday, and have now receded to October 2005 levels.

Prices were down 0.6 percent from June on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The national decline in home values coupled with reckless lending standards during the real-estate boom are the driving forces behind rising mortgage defaults and foreclosures. They have spurred a credit crisis that has shaken Wall Street to its core and caused the Bush administration to propose a $700 billion financial industry bailout.


Big homebuilder’s sales down 50%

Lennar, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, said Tuesday that its sales in the third quarter plunged more than 50 percent and it does not expect the housing market to improve “for some time to come.”

By slashing costs, Lennar narrowed its loss to $89 million, or 56 cents a share, during the three months ended Aug. 31, markedly better than a $513.9 million loss ($3.25 a share) in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue fell to $1.11 billion from $2.34 billion.

While the results were in line with Wall Street forecasts, the company’s outlook disappointed investors, who sent shares down almost 8 percent, or $1.03 to $12.71.


Oil prices drop below $107 a barrel

Oil prices pulled back Tuesday after the previous session’s wild, record-setting rally, dropping below $107 a barrel as uncertainty over the U.S. financial bailout plan and a stronger dollar led investors to shed commodities.

It was crude’s first down session in five days. Some decline was expected after crude soared 16 percent on Monday — the biggest one-day gain ever — partly because of a technical fluke.

Still, oil market watchers say crude is showing early signs that it may be poised for another big climb.

Compiled from The Associated Press, The New York Times, Seattle Times staff and Bloomberg News