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Contract talks between General Motors and striking United Auto Workers took a big step toward an agreement Wednesday when committees finished their work and sent it to the top bargainers.

The move means minor issues largely are resolved, and a few bargainers for both sides will now try to come to terms on wages, use of temporary workers and other contentious issues. UAW Vice President Terry Dittes outlined the development in a letter to members. He said the union presented material to GM and is waiting for a response.

"This back and forth will continue until negotiations are complete," Dittes wrote. "We will continue to bargain this contract until your Bargaining Committee is satisfied that we have achieved an agreement that properly addresses our members' concerns."

In a statement, GM spokesman Dan Flores said the company will "continue to bargain in good faith, and our goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our company."

 

Amazon launches wireless earbuds, glasses, rings

Amazon wants to make sure you don't leave home without Alexa.

The online shopping giant unveiled wireless earbuds at a Seattle event Wednesday, its first major attempt at getting its Alexa voice assistant outside the home and worn by customers all day. The Echo Buds, which cost $130, lets users order an Uber ride or find the nearest coffee shop as they stroll down the street. And later this year, Whole Foods shoppers wearing the black buds can ask Alexa what aisle they can find canned tomatoes or other groceries.

Amazon said the earbuds will start shipping in October. It said some customers will be invited to buy $180 prescription glasses with Alexa built in. And it will also sell a limited number of Alexa- enabled rings.

Werner Goertz, a personal technology analyst at Gartner, said the products are part of Amazon's plan to make its voice-assistant ubiquitous.

"You can have Alexa with you 24/7," he said.

 

Home sales up 7.1% last month

U.S. new home sales jumped 7.1% in August, as low mortgage rates are pulling buyers into the housing market.

The Commerce Department said new homes sales increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 713,000, up from a revised 666,000 in July.

"This makes the housing data three-for-three in August, as housing starts, existing home sales, and new home sales all increased and were noticeably stronger than expected," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont. "This may reflect the plunge in mortgage rates as well as the moderation in home price appreciation so far this year."

 

Best Buy sees growth among nation's elderly

The nation's largest consumer electronics chain, known for selling TV sets, cellphones and laptops, is looking to health care as a big source of its future growth.

Best Buy Co. said Wednesday that in five years it hopes to provide 5 million seniors with health monitoring services, which can range from sensors placed throughout a home to a pendant worn around the neck. It currently provides the service to 1 million.

It's part of the chain's deeper push into the $3.5 trillion U.S. health care market and essential to its goal of reaching $50 billion in annual revenue by 2025.

The strategy comes as Best Buy has succeeded in holding off increasing competition from Amazon and other players by speeding up deliveries and adding more services to deepen its relationship with customers.

"This is an environment driven by constant innovation and people who need help with technology," CEO Corie Barry said.

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