NEW YORK -- The federal government sued one of the nation's largest privately held mortgage brokers Tuesday, saying its decade-long fraudulent lending practices cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars and forced thousands of American homeowners to lose their homes.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan sought unspecified damages and civil penalties and named as defendants Houston-based Allied Home Mortgage Corp., founder Jim Hodge and Jeanne Stell, the company's executive vice president and director of compliance.

Joe James, a company spokesman, said he was aware of the lawsuit but had not yet seen it. He declined to comment.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Allied had carried out its fraud through its authority to originate mortgage loans insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

BB&T buys BankAtlantic assets, 78 branches

NEW YORK -- BB&T is buying the 78 remaining branches of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based BankAtlantic, along with its deposits and part of its loan portfolio.

BB&T said Tuesday that the deal will expand its presence in South Florida and add to earnings in 2012 minus acquisition costs.

Under the deal, BB&T will pay a premium of about $301 million above net asset value for $2.1 billion in loans and roughly $3.3 billion in deposits. The exact premium will be based on deposits at closing, but will not be higher than $316 million.

BB&T is not buying BankAtlantic's non-performing assets, typically loans that are past due and considered in danger of default.

BB&T shares fell 86 cents, or 3.7 percent, to close at $22.48 Tuesday, while BankAtlantic shares climbed $2.63 to close at $5, a jump of 110.97 percent.

Factory activity slows as economy stays sluggish

WASHINGTON-- U.S. manufacturing grew more slowly in October, hampered by weaker demand for exports and slower production at factories.

But companies ordered more goods, factories slashed their stockpiles and auto sales rose. Those trends suggest that manufacturing activity could rebound in coming months.

Tuesday's data, which also showed a slight uptick in construction spending in September, suggest that the economy is growing but remains too sluggish to lower the unemployment rate, which has been stuck at 9.1 percent for three straight months.

The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that its manufacturing index dropped to 50.8, down from 51.6 in September. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

U.S. builders spent slightly more in September

WASHINGTON -- U.S. builders spent slightly more in September on home construction, partially offsetting losses in public schools, roads and government offices.

Construction spending rose 0.2 percent in September from August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $787.2 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. It was the second straight monthly increase.

Still, spending is barely half the $1.5 trillion that economists consider healthy. Through first nine months of the year spending is at $580.9 billion, about 3.5 percent below the same period in 2010.

No big Fed moves expected as economy solidifies

WASHINGTON -- Let's wait and see.

That's likely to be the message from the Federal Reserve today when its two-day policy meeting ends. Few experts expect any bold new steps to be announced.

Fed policymakers likely want to gauge the impact of action they have taken recently to keep interest rates low. The Fed has breathing room because the economy and stock markets have strengthened enough to allay fears of another recession.