BC-Business News Digest


Associated Press

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Business News at 5:40 p.m.

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U.S. stock, bond and commodities trading are closed Friday, March 29 in observance of Good Friday.

There will not be any Money & Markets modules for Saturday, March 30. Money & Markets Extra modules for the week ending Saturday, March 30 were sent Thursday.

New this digest:





NEW YORK — The dollar is rising again. After a sharp drop last fall, the dollar has risen almost 5 percent against other currencies over the last two months, reaching its highest level since August. The main reason is the stronger U.S. economy, coupled with relative weakness in the dollar's two global rivals, the euro and the Japanese yen. The stronger dollar is hurting U.S. companies, but not equally. Those who depend most on overseas sales, like technology companies or makers of basic goods like copper and aluminum are feeling the greatest impact. In the long run, a stronger dollar could be good for U.S. businesses by keeping inflation down. Experts predict the dollar could strengthen even more over the next year or two. Here's what to look out for. By Markets Writer Steve Rothwell.

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WASHINGTON — It's a good bet that aerial drones will one day be part of Americans' everyday lives, performing countless useful functions. They're a stark departure from the killing machines whose missiles incinerate terrorists. But industry officials say the civilian unmanned aircraft industry is in danger of being grounded before it can take off, in part because of an emerging public backlash based on fears the technology will be misused. Delays in issuing government safety regulations for drones are also hindering the industry. By Joan Lowy.

AP photos, video


FRANKFURT, GERMANY — This week's deal to rescue Cyprus and its banks from financial collapse has renewed fears about Europe's shaky financial system and where trouble might next appear. With many banks across Europe still struggling, there's a new sense that bank depositors and bondholders could take more losses. By David McHugh.

AP photos.



LONDON — As it grapples with the prospect of years of economic pain, Cyprus will try to draw strength from its not-so-distant experience of invasion — and the fact that a whole generation knows what it means to rebuild from scratch. But it's a tough task. Any inspiration will be badly needed on the small east Mediterranean island nation of less than a million people, as even the most optimistic forecasters predict years of recession and sky-high unemployment. By Pan Pylas.

AP photos.

— CYPRUS-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Cyprus' president calls on the country to "share the burden" of solving its financial crisis as banks open for normal business for the second day, but with strict restrictions still in place on how much money their clients can access. AP photos

— LEW-EUROPE — U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will travel to Europe next week to meet with top financial leaders. The trip comes as the region is in the grips of financial troubles triggered by a banking crisis in Cyprus.



WASHINGTON — Consumers earned more and spent more in February, helped by a stronger job market that is offsetting some of the drag from higher taxes. The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.7 percent in February compared with January. It was the biggest gain in five months and followed a 0.4 percent rise in January. Americans were able to spend more because their income rose 1.1 percent last month. The gains in spending and income follow other signs of an economy gathering momentum. By Martin Crutsinger.

AP photos


WASHINGTON — Reducing sulfur in gasoline and tightening emissions standards on cars beginning in 2017, as the Obama administration is proposing, would come with costs as well as rewards. The cost at the pump for cleaner air across the country could be less than a penny or as high as 9 cents a gallon, depending on who is providing the estimate. By Dina Cappiello.

AP photo.

— STUDENT LOANS — Congressional inaction could end up costing college students an extra $5,000 on their new loans. AP photo

— STATE UNEMPLOYMENT — Unemployment rates fell in 22 U.S. states in February from January, a sign that hiring gains are benefiting many parts of the country.

— OBAMA — Obama calls for a jobs plan with more private spending on public works during Florida trip. AP photo

— PAID SICK LEAVE — A plan to require thousands of New York City businesses to provide paid sick leave balances workers' needs with businesses' concerns, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said Friday, a day after announcing that lawmakers and advocates reached a deal on the hotly contested issue. AP photos.

— WORLD MARKETS — Asian stock markets were mostly higher as momentum carried over from yet another record high on Wall Street. Trading remained thin, however, as stock, bond and commodities markets were closed for Good Friday in the U.S. and Europe, along with large parts of Asia.



SAN FRANCISCO — Shipping company UPS has agreed to pay $40 million to end a federal criminal probe connected to its work for online pharmacies. By Paul Elias.

— UNITED AIRLINES-BOEING 787 — United Airlines is delaying its new Denver-Tokyo service — again — because its new Boeing 787 jets remain grounded.

— BUDGET BATTLE-AIRPORTS — Airports have begun mounting a legal challenge to the FAA's decision to shut down 149 air traffic control towers under federal budget cuts.


NEW YORK — Marilyn Monroe's letter of despair to mentor Lee Strasberg and Dwight D. Eisenhower's heartfelt missives to his wife during World War II are among hundreds of historical documents being offered in an online auction. By Ula Ilnytzky.

AP photos


NEW YORK — Michael Steinberg, a portfolio manager for the hedge fund operator SAC Capital Advisors, has been arrested as part of a federal insider trading investigation. The FBI declined to specify the charges. At least four other people associated with the Stamford, Conn.-based firm have been arrested over the past four years. The SEC earlier this month said SAC would pay more than $614 million in what federal regulators called the largest insider trading settlement ever.


MULBERRY, Ark. — A small but growing number of farmers are experimenting with an edible soybean as they look to capitalize on Americans' interest in adding non-meat proteins to their diets. The U.S. is one of the world's top soybean producers, but most beans grown here are used to make cooking oil and feed farm animals. They aren't eaten whole. Now, some farmers from Arkansas to Minnesota have started planting a type of soybean called edamame, a common ingredient in Asian foods and can be used in everything from salads to stir frys. By Jeannie Nuss.

AP photos

— SEARS-EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION — A regulatory filing from Sears Holding Corp. shows its chief executive took a pay cut of nearly 90 percent in 2012. Louis D'Ambrosio's became CEO of Sears in February 2011 and stepped down last month due to heath issues involving his family.

— COURTING GUNMAKERS — Firearms manufacturers upset over gun laws and proposals are getting a message from other states: Move here, where the climate is favorable to your products and so are the tax codes.



SAN FRANCISCO — It's back. The virtual reality headset, the gizmo that was supposed to seamlessly transport wearers to three-dimensional virtual worlds, has made a remarkable return at this year's Game Developers Conference, an annual gathering of video game makers in San Francisco. By Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang.

AP photos


NEW YORK — They stream in a couple of dozen times a week, cries for help in bursts of text to DoSomething.org, a nonprofit more used to texting out details to teens on good causes and campaigns than receiving them from young people in crisis. "I feel like committing suicide," one text read. "What's the suicide hotline number?" Another asked: "How do you tell a friend they need to go to rehab?" DoSomething isn't a hotline, but its CEO, Nancy Lublin, decided to, well, do something. She's leading an effort to establish a 24/7 national text hotline across trigger issues for teens in the hope that it will become their 911. By Leanne Italie.

AP photos.

— APPLE-WRAPAROUND PHONE — Apple is seeking a patent for an iPhone that has a display that wraps around the edges of the device, expanding the viewable area and eliminating all physical buttons.

— FACEBOOK-ANDROID EVENT — Facebook has invited journalists to the unveiling of what it calls its "new home on Android" next Thursday. There has been speculation that the company could launch a new phone, but it's more likely to unveil a new Android app or some other integration into Android phones.



AMSTERDAM — Two weeks ago, few people outside the Netherlands had heard of Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch politician instrumental in negotiating Cyprus' bailout. Now he's being criticized for shaking the confidence of financial markets. Here are some questions and answers about the man and the debate he's started. By Toby Sterling.

AP photos


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — With just hours to go before Argentina has to show its last cards in a billion-dollar debt showdown in the U.S. courts, President Cristina Fernandez seems to be keeping up her "we're going for more" motto. Her government is reportedly preparing a response that analysts say could lead the country into another catastrophic default. By Michael Warren.

AP photo


SEOUL, South Korea — China, Japan and South Korea are inching ahead with talks for a free trade zone that would rival the European Union and North America in economic heft. Progress will be slow despite the achievement of setting aside their often acrimonious relations to begin negotiations. An agreement to start talks took 10 years. By Youkyung Lee.

— CHINA-FOREIGN BUSINESS — Foreign companies in China say they want the country's new leadership to act on pledges to reduce bureaucracy and remove investment barriers as the business climate gets tougher, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

— JAPAN-ECONOMY — Japan's jobless rate edges higher, industrial production falls slightly and consumer prices drop, underscoring the fragility of the recovery in the world's third-largest economy.

— IRAQ-EGYPT — Iraq rejects a request from Egypt for a $4 billion bond to be deposited in Egypt's central bank to bolster its faltering economy. Talks are ongoing for a smaller amount.

— JAPAN-NUCLEAR — The utility that operates Japan's crippled atomic plant says it deserved most of the blame for the country's nuclear crisis, in the company's strongest remarks about its own shortcomings.

— ISRAEL-NATURAL GAS — Huge offshore natural gas deposits are turning into a mixed blessing for Israel. The deposits are expected to provide Israel enough natural gas for decades and transform the country, famously empty of natural resources, into an energy exporter. Yet selling the gas overseas will require Israel to navigate a geopolitical quagmire that risks angering allies and enemies alike. By Tia Goldenberg. AP Photos.


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