The sale of existing homes rose 3.1 percent in July, double the rate some economists forecast, as buyers snapped up deeply discounted properties in areas hit hardest by the housing bust, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. Still, home sales were 13.2 percent lower than a year ago.

A major union at Boeing Co. called a new contract proposal "insulting" and stepped up its threat to organize a strike by 27,000 workers in early September. Boeing proposed a pay raise of 2.5 percent the first year and 2 percent in each of the following two years.

Gasoline prices have dropped 15 cents a gallon in the last two weeks to an average of $3.70 for self-serve regular, according to the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 filling stations nationwide.

John McCain will maintain a light campaign schedule rather than try to compete with the Democratic convention in Denver this week, advisers to the Republican nominee-in-waiting said. McCain plans to use late-night talk shows and local newspapers to reach out to voters in swing states.

Jesus Ruben Moncada, a suspected mass murderer, was arrested at his Los Angeles home and returned to Mexico, US immigration officials said Sunday. Moncada faces first degree murder charges in the 1998 drug-related massacre of 19 people in Baja California, Mexico.

High gas prices have driven down traffic fatalities, which could drop below 37,000 this year for the first time since 1961, according to Michael Sivak, author of a Transportation Research Institute study.

An American team won the Little League World Series for a fourth straight time Sunday, as the boys from Waipahu, Hawaii, defeated Matamoros, Mexico, 12-3 in Williamsport, Pa.

President Bush declared four Florida counties major disaster areas Sunday based on damages from a week-long lashing by tropical storm Fay. The counties eligible for federal aid are Brevard, Monroe, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie. Fay's remnants were expected to dump several inches of rain across the South.

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