Durable goods orders jumped 3.5% for Nov.

WASHINGTON - Businesses stepped up their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in November. And a key category that signals business investment plans climbed at the fastest pace in 10 months.

The surge in orders for durable goods, which are products expected to last at least three years, was more evidence of a manufacturing rebound.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday orders for durable goods jumped 3.5 percent last month compared with October, when they had fallen 0.7 percent. The increase was led by a 21.8 percent surge in demand for commercial aircraft, which can be volatile.

US sales of new homes fell by 2.1% last month

WASHINGTON - New-home sales dipped in November, but the government released more positive figures for the previous three months, a sign that housing may be regaining strength.

Sales slipped 2.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 464,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The slight drop occurred after sales had surged to a rate of 474,000 in October. That was the fastest pace since 2008 and 17.6 percent above the September level - the biggest one-month jump in 21 years.

The government's report Tuesday revised up new-home sales for the three months preceding November. August's total was revised up by 9,000, September's by 49,000 and October's by 30,000.

Target says be wary of scam email messages

ATLANTA - Target says it has learned of some incidents of scam emails related to its recent data breach and is setting up a section of its corporate website to post copies of all official communication.

The company says it is aware of "limited instances" of scam emails. A spokeswoman says the company doesn't have any other specifics to provide about the fake emails.

The retailer says it is creating a section of its website to contain copies of Target's official communication to customers so customers can be sure they are really hearing from Target when they get emails from the retailer. Target said last week that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15.

Cracker Barrel investor might try to buy chain

NEW YORK - Cracker Barrel's largest shareholder says he is considering a bid for the restaurant chain, part of his efforts to change the company.

Sardar Biglari, through Biglari Holdings, owns nearly 20 percent of Cracker Barrel. He has tried and failed multiple times to win a seat on the board. Shareholders also recently rejected his proposal for a $20 a share dividend.

He said in a letter Tuesday the company's earnings power is "far too low" and urged the company to consider selling itself. He says he could submit a bid, but gave no specifics. He also suggested the company consider repurchasing shares.

NHTSA expand probe into Mercedes tail light

DETROIT - Safety regulators have expanded an investigation into rear light failures in Mercedes-Benz C-Class luxury vehicles. The probe now covers nearly 253,000 cars from the 2008 through 2011 model years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the stop, tail and turn signal lights can fail because of a melted electrical connector. The agency and Mercedes have received 402 complaints, including five fires and one injury. No recall has been issued.

Wire reports