U.S. new-home sales fell in Dec., but up for year

WASHINGTON — Sales of new U.S. homes cooled off in December compared with November, but for the entire year they were the best since 2009.

The Commerce Department said Friday that new-home sales fell 7.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000. That’s down from November’s rate of 398,000, which was the fastest in 2 ½ years.

For the year, sales rose nearly 20 percent to 367,000. That’s the most since 2009, although the increase is coming off the worst year for new-home sales since the government began keeping records in 1963. Sales are still below the 700,000 level that economists consider healthy.

Procter & Gamble fiscal 2Q net income doubles

NEW YORK — Procter & Gamble is turning a corner.

The world’s largest consumer goods company, whose products like Tide detergent and Gillette razors are in 98 percent of U.S. households, in recent years has lost business to competitors as it grew too fast overseas and kept prices high.

But on Friday, P&G reported that its fiscal second-quarter profit more than doubled as the plan the company launched last year to lower costs and roll out new products boosted its bottom line. It is the second quarter in a row that P&G beat Wall Street estimates.

Economist: Euro’s crisis could re-erupt this year

DAVOS, Switzerland — Is the euro crisis over? A leading U.S. economist says not by a long shot.

Even as the head of the European Central Bank talked Friday of “positive contagion” in the markets and predicted an economic recovery for the recession-hit eurozone later this year, economist Barry Eichengreen warned that the debt crisis that has shaken Europe to its core could easily erupt again this year unless European leaders move faster to solve their problems.

While European governments and markets have been breathing easier in recent months after years of turmoil, it’s no time for complacency, said Eichengreen, who has chronicled the Great Depression and explored the consequences of a breakup of the euro currency used by 17 nations.

2 billionaire investors square off on live TV

NEW YORK — A long-simmering spat between billionaire investors Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman boiled over into a shouting match on live television Friday.

The two Wall Street titans, interviewed by phone simultaneously on CNBC, traded barbs about an old investment deal and on Ackman’s position in the nutritional supplements distributor Herbalife Inc.

Ackman was being interviewed by CNBC host Scott Wapner a day after Icahn made disparaging comments about him on Bloomberg TV. After Ackman had spoken about some of his current investment positions, Wapner interrupted the conversation to say that Icahn had called in and had a few points to make. The two men spent about 30 minutes telling Wapner why they didn’t much care for each other.

PepsiCo: Gatorade will remove oil ingredient

NEW YORK — PepsiCo Inc. is removing a controversial ingredient from its Gatorade sports drink in response to customer complaints.

A spokeswoman said Friday that the removal of brominated vegetable oil was in the works over the past year after the company began “hearing rumblings” from consumers about the ingredient. She said it wasn’t a reaction to a recent petition on Change.org.

The ingredient is also used in other drinks, including some flavors of Powerade made by rival Coca-Cola, which did not say whether it would remove the ingredient.

Wire reports