An oil terminal and pipeline network expected to be built off the Texas Gulf Coast and open in about two years would be capable of handling...

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An oil terminal and pipeline network expected to be built off the Texas Gulf Coast and open in about two years would be capable of handling nearly 20 percent of the nation’s daily imported oil.

Demand from expanding refineries along the coast, from Freeport to Port Arthur, is driving the $1.8 billion project, executives of the partnership said Monday.

It will be the second offshore port in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Texas Offshore Port System, or TOPS, is a joint venture of Enterprise Products Partners and Teppco Partners, both based in Houston; and Oiltanking Holding Americas, a subsidiary of Germany’s privately held Marquard & Bahls.

The terminal will allow huge oceanic tankers to unload crude about 36 miles off the coast of Freeport, avoiding sometimes fog-shrouded coastal areas and other hazards.

Real estate

Southern California home sales climb

Southern California home sales surged to a 16-month high last month as prices kept falling and bargain hunters snapped up foreclosed properties, a research firm said Monday.

A total of 20,329 homes and condos — including new and existing models — were sold during July in the six-county region, up 13.8 percent from July 2007 and up 16.7 percent from June, MDA DataQuick said.

It was the highest monthly tally since March 2007, when 21,856 homes were sold, and the first annual increase since September 2005, the firm said.

“What we’re looking at is a fire sale of properties in newer affordable neighborhoods that were bought or refinanced near the price peak with lousy mortgages,” said John Walsh, president of MDA DataQuick.


Big discounts due on GM’s ’08 models

General Motors plans to announce today it is offering employee pricing to everyone as it tries to clear out remaining 2008 vehicles.

Company spokesman John McDonald confirmed that the discounts would be offered but declined to give details until the announcement is made today.

Employee discounts generally are 10 percent below the invoice price but vary by model.

GM in the past has used incentives across most of its model lineup to clear out inventory to make way for new models.

The 2009 models will make their way to showrooms in late summer and early fall.


Longs board backs takeover by CVS

Longs Drug Stores recommended shareholders approve its $2.7 billion purchase by CVS Caremark even as activist investor Bill Ackman hired a firm to explore getting a higher price.

The Longs board endorsed the takeover in a regulatory filing Monday.

Ackman’s hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, has hired Blackstone Group to advise it, Ackman confirmed in an e-mail Monday.

“It’s a substantial premium to the stock prices a month before the announcement,” said Dan Poole, senior vice president of equity research at National City Bank in Cleveland, with $34 billion in assets including 3.54 million CVS shares as of June 30.

“CVS is the only logical buyer. We expect the transaction to be completed at the stated price,” Poole said Monday.


Google Web site to lobby regulators

Google started a Web site to lobby U.S. regulators to free unused television airwaves for wireless Internet access.

The airwaves, known as white spaces, could spur a revolution in wireless services, Google said on the site, which it unveiled Monday. The company designed the site to be “a campaign by and for consumers,” Google lobbyist Richard Whitt told reporters.

The site lets visitors upload videos and sign an electronic petition urging the Federal Communications Commission to make the spectrum available for unlicensed uses, such as free mobile Web access, after broadcasters convert to digital signals in February.

Home sales

Housing index still at all-time low

Homebuilders are a little more optimistic about the prospects for home sales over the next six months, but an index reflecting the sector’s confidence overall remained at an all-time low, an industry trade association said Monday.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index remained unchanged this month at 16, where it’s been since July.

But benchmarks for sales improved.

The gauge of current sales conditions climbed one point to 16, while an index of builders’ sales expectations over the next six months rose two points to 25.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News