Report: Google among would-be Hulu buyers

LOS ANGELES -- Search giant Google Inc. is one of about a dozen companies involved in talks to potentially buy online video site Hulu, someone familiar with the matter said Friday.

As the owner of YouTube, it would be a strategic buy for the company, which has had a rocky relationship with Hulu's Hollywood owners.

Hulu began seeking bidders last week after an unsolicited offer prompted it to seek other interested parties.

Hulu streams movies and TV shows from broadcasters ABC, Fox and NBC to personal computers and, for a fee, to a range of Web-connected devices.

The company is owned by the broadcasters' parents: Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast Corp., along with Providence Equity Partners.

Construction spending falls 0.6 percent in May

WASHINGTON -- Builders began work on fewer projects in May, led by steep declines in apartment construction and less spending by state and local governments.

Construction spending declined 0.6 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $757.9 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. That put overall spending barely above an 11-year low hit in February. And it is roughly half of the $1.5 trillion pace considered healthy by most economists.

Analysts say it could be another four years before construction returns to healthier levels. The weak construction spending data showed Americans are reluctant to both build and buy.

Former vice president at Wachovia gets six years in prison

CHARLOTTE -- A former Wachovia Bank vice president will spend nearly six years in federal prison and have to pay roughly $13 million after being sentenced for his role in an embezzlement scam that defrauded the bank of millions.

U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn sentenced Scott Welch, 48, to 70 months in prison Thursday. Welch also will have to pay $11.2 million in restitution to Wachovia and $1.7 million to the IRS. The government also seized a number of his assets, including his lakeside house in Mooresville.

Welch oversaw the handling of invoices submitted by vendors who provided goods and services to the bank.

Postal Service suspends incentives for managers

WASHINGTON -- The cash-strapped Postal Service is suspending performance awards for managers and executives.

The post office, which made the announcement Friday, is facing financial losses that could reach $8 billion for the year because of the weak economy and movement of communication to the Internet. Earlier, the agency suspended contributions to its employee pension fund.

Over the past four years, the Postal Service has cut its staff by 110,000 and reduced costs by $12 billion.

The agency is seeking congressional action that would let it end Saturday delivery and annual advance payments of more than $5 billion for future retiree medical costs. The post office, which does not receive tax money, also is seeking to close smaller offices.

Duke Energy is asking for 17 percent rate increase in North Carolina

RALEIGH -- Duke Energy Corp. is asking North Carolina regulators to allow a 17 percent increase for residential rates, a move that would add about $19 to the average monthly home power bill of nearly $100.

The Charlotte-based utility filed a request Friday with the state Utilities Commission to raise its base rates to keep up with nearly $5 billion in investments in its electricity generating and transmission system. Duke's North Carolina president, Brett Carter, says the company plans to file another rate increase request next year. Duke Energy will ask South Carolina regulators for a rate increase in August.

Carter says the rate increase won't apply to current customers of Raleigh-based Progress Energy. The request also seeks a 14 percent increase for industrial customers.