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Confidence among U.S. homebuilders held in July at the highest level since November 2005, indicating the residential real estate market may be picking up speed. Builder confidence climbed in three of the four U.S. regions, with the Northeast showing the greatest improvement. Sentiment also rose in the West and Midwest. (Bloomberg)

General Electric's sales increased 2% to $32.75 billion in the second quarter, compared last year. GE is actively selling most of the assets contained within its GE Capital unit and those efforts temporarily dented the bottom line. Because of charges associated with that process, the company swung from a $3.5 billion profit a year ago to a $1.3 billion loss for the second quarter. (USA Today)

Mattel, the world’s largest toymaker, posted a surprise profit this quarter under a new CEO helped by a rise in demand for its Fisher-Price toys and lower costs. Sales of Fisher-Price toys, aimed at infants and preschoolers, rose 9%.  Fisher-Price sales had fallen 17% last year. The company has renewed its partnership with Walt Disney for the Toy Story films, just in time for the fourth installment of the franchise due in 2017. (Reuters)
 

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