Stocks fall 4th day on housing report

NEW YORK -- Stocks fell for a fourth straight day Tuesday after another disappointing report on housing deepened worries that the economic recovery could be fading. Bonds yields fell as investors sought out more stable investments.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 134 points following news that sales of previously occupied homes fell last month to their lowest level in 15 years. The 27 percent drop from the previous month was the biggest since record-keeping began in 1968.

The Dow dipped briefly below 10,000 for the first time in seven weeks and has now lost 375 points since its four-day slump began last Thursday. The yield on the two-year Treasury note reached another record low as cautious investors piled back into the bond market.

Jeep Grand Cherokees under investigation

WASHINGTON -- Federal safety officials have opened an investigation of 3 million Jeep Grand Cherokees over concerns that defective fuel tanks could cause fires in crashes.

The investigation is in response to allegations made last year by an auto safety group that the placement of the gas tank behind the rear bumper and below the rear axle could make the SUV vulnerable to spillage during a rear-end crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety panel said it has identified 10 crashes and 13 deaths that could be linked to the potential problem, though the safety group said there are more cases.

Jeep Grand Cherokees in model years 1993 to 2004 are covered by the probe. The preliminary investigation is a first step in determining whether a recall is necessary.

Barnes & Noble posts first-quarter loss

NEW YORK -- Barnes & Noble posted a first-quarter loss on legal expenses related to its proxy fight with billionaire financier Ron Burkle and cut its annual earnings outlook on costs related to the fight.

The results missed expectations, but the struggling book seller reported that it was making inroads with its online bookstore and e-book reader Nook. Some analysts said that was a sign of optimism as the company can make up for falling sales in retail stores online.

The largest U.S. traditional-book seller said it lost $62.5 million in the quarter ending July 31. Last year during the same period it earned $12.3 million.

Revenue rose 21 percent to $1.4 billion, although the cost of sales rose as the company invested more in its online book store and Nook e-reader.

Amazon.com book exclusive called off

NEW YORK -- An exclusive e-book deal between Amazon.com and the agent for such classics as "Invisible Man" is no longer exclusive, and no longer a deal.

Random House and the Wylie Agency announced Tuesday that "Invisible Man," "Rabbit Is Rich" and more than a dozen other works were being removed from a program brokered between Wylie and Amazon that offered them as e-books available only through the online retailer.

Instead, Random House, which had claimed electronic rights, will publish the books on a non-exclusive basis. The original deal had enraged publishers and rival booksellers and led to Random House suspending business with Wylie.