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Source : AP
Last Updated: Tue, Jun 04, 2013 22:30 hrs

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US home prices jumped in April by most in 7 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices soared 12.1 percent in April from a year earlier, the biggest gain since February 2006, as more buyers competed for fewer homes.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic says prices rose in April from the previous April in 48 states. Prices also rose 3.2 percent in April from March, much better than the previous month-to-month gain of 1.9 percent.

Prices in Nevada jumped 24.6 percent from a year earlier, the most among the states. California's gain was next at 19.4 percent, followed by Arizona's 17.3 percent, Hawaii's 17 percent and Oregon's 15.5 percent.

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'Internship' film focuses on Google's good side

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — This scene isn't in the movie, but it might have been fitting if "The Internship" had ended with stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson wearing ruby red shoes while clicking their heels and dreamily whispering, "There's no place like Google; there's no place like Google."

The new comedy depicts Google as corporate America's equivalent of the Emerald City from "The Wizard of Oz" — a colorful place where all the food is free, interesting people and gadgets loom around every corner and dreams can come true for those who think big enough, work hard enough and collaborate as a team to make it happen.

It's a nearly two-hour showcase for Google's idealistic culture and for a product line that's becoming deeply ingrained in people's technology dependent lives.

"The Internship," which hits theaters Friday, will likely be a hit among Google-loving geeks and fans of feel-good flicks, especially those with an affinity for the riffing and mirthful chemistry between Vaughn and Wilson. The two are back together for the first time since "Wedding Crashers" came out eight years ago.

But the film may not create such warm and fuzzy feelings among Google critics who view the company as a self-interested bully that tramples over copyrights, intrudes into people's privacy and stifles competition by abusing its power as the Internet's main gateway.

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IRS officials enjoyed luxury rooms at conference

WASHINGTON (AP) — Already heavily criticized for targeting conservative groups, the Internal Revenue Service absorbed another blow Tuesday as new details emerged about senior officials enjoying luxury hotel rooms, free drinks and free food at a $4.1 million training conference. It was one of many expensive gatherings the agency held for employees over a three-year period.

One top official stayed five nights in a room that regularly goes for $3,500 a night, and another — who was later promoted — stayed four nights in a room that regularly goes for $1,499.

A total of 132 IRS officials received room upgrades at the conference in 2010 in Anaheim, Calif., according to a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration. The tax agency paid a flat daily fee of $135 per hotel room, the report said, but the upgrades were part of a package deal that added to the overall cost of the conference.

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Chrysler refuses US request to recall vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — A defiant Chrysler is refusing to recall about 2.7 million Jeeps the government says are at risk of a fuel tank fire in a rear-end collision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent Chrysler a letter asking that the company voluntarily recall Jeep Grand Cherokees from 1993 through 2004 and Jeep Libertys from 2002 through 2007.

Chrysler Group LLC, which is majority-owned by Italy's Fiat SpA, said in a statement Tuesday that the Jeeps are safe and it "does not intend to recall the vehicles."

Such a refusal by an auto company is rare. NHTSA can order a recall but may need a court order to enforce it.

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Silicon Valley at front line of global cyber war

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and American counterpart Barack Obama will talk cyber-security this week in California, but experts say the state's Silicon Valley and its signature high-tech firms should provide the front lines in the increasingly aggressive fight against overseas hackers.

With China seeking to grow its economy and expand its technology base, companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Twitter are inviting targets. In fact, all have been attacked and all point the finger at China, which has denied any role.

The U.S. government has stepped up efforts to thwart cyber-attacks, but those efforts are mainly focused at protecting its own secrets, especially regarding military operations and technologies.

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Locked doors a sign of China work-safety failings

BEIJING (AP) — A fire breaks out in a Chinese factory, and panicked workers discover one exit after another is locked. That describes not only the poultry plant fire that killed 119 people Monday, but a toy-factory blaze that left 87 workers dead 20 years earlier.

The similarities between the two worst factory fires in China's history suggest that little has changed for industrial workers even as the country has transformed its economy.

The bolted doors, clearly a violation of Chinese law, are emblematic of the often callous approach to worker safety in China that leads to frequent industrial disasters and an annual death toll in the tens of thousands.

While the country's increasingly sophisticated economy has surged into second place globally behind the United States, industrial safety conditions often more closely resemble those in struggling impoverished nations such as Bangladesh, where more than 1,100 people died in an April garment factory collapse.

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US trade deficit up 8.5 percent to $40.3 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit widened in April, as demand for foreign cars, cellphones and other imported goods outpaced growth in U.S. exports.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade gap rose 8.5 percent in April from March to $40.3 billion.

Exports increased 1.2 percent to $187.4 billion, the second-highest level on record. Companies sold more telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery and airplane parts, while U.S.-made autos and auto parts also rose to an all-time high of $12.8 billion.

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Frozen berry mix linked to hepatitis A recalled

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Oregon company is recalling a frozen berry mix sold to Costco and Harris Teeter stores after the product was linked to at least 34 hepatitis A illnesses in five states.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., is recalling its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, packaged under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those stores.

Illnesses were reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California. Hawaii health officials are also investigating three cases of hepatitis A in people who have eaten the frozen berry product.

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J&J recalls 32 million contraceptive packages outside US

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that it's conducting a voluntary recall of millions of oral contraceptive packages in 43 countries outside the U.S., but that there's a "very low" risk that the flawed tablets could cause unplanned pregnancies.

It's the latest in a continuing string of about 40 product recalls announced by the New Brunswick, N.J., health care giant since 2009.

The birth control pills are being recalled — from pharmacies and wholesalers, but not women — because tests last month showed one of the two hormones in them was being released slower than it should.

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Apple enlists Winnie-the-Pooh in e-book argument

NEW YORK (AP) — An Apple Inc. lawyer is using Winnie-the-Pooh and tens of millions of customers to try to convince a judge that the computer giant did not manipulate e-book prices when it opened an online bookstore.

Attorney Orin Snyder enlisted the popular children's title as he questioned the top executive at publisher Penguin Group USA on Tuesday. It was the second day of an anti-trust civil trial resulting from a lawsuit brought last year by the Justice Department.

Penguin CEO David Shanks conceded that the Winnie-the-Pooh book looks "beautiful" in color on Apple products and not as good in black and white on others. He says "irrational enthusiasm" about the potential for 80 million to 100 million new Apple customers led the company to meet many of Apple's demands in 2010.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 76.49 points to 15,177.54, a drop of 0.5 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.04 points to close at 1,631.38, a drop of 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq composite fell 20.11 points to 3,445.26, down 0.6 percent.

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