Home Depot: $1.35B paid for National Waterworks

ATLANTA - The Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home improvement store chain, said in a regulatory filing Thursday that it paid $1.35 billion to buy a leading distributor of products used to build and repair wastewater transmission systems.

The acquisition of National Waterworks Holdings Inc. was announced in July, but the price was not previously disclosed. Atlanta-based Home Depot gave the price in its quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, adding that the deal closed in August.

The purchase is part of Home Depot's effort to expand its division focused on business-to-business customers.

Retailers report solid sales

NEW YORK - Consumers persevered at stores and malls in August, shopping despite soaring gas prices and giving many of the nation's biggest retailers surprisingly solid sales.

But the outlook for consumer spending in the coming months was uncertain, with Hurricane Katrina and higher energy prices expected to take a toll on the overall economy.

Also, the government said the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 last week to a seven-week high of 320,000.

Those claims numbers are expected to dramatically rise in the weeks ahead as laid-off workers in New Orleans and other areas affected by Katrina file claims.

- From wire reports