Business Highlights

Last Updated: Fri, Jul 13, 2012 23:15 hrs


JPMorgan traders may have sought to conceal losses

NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase said Friday that its traders may have tried to conceal the losses from a soured bet that has embarrassed the bank and cost it almost $6 billion — far more than its CEO first suggested.

The bank said an internal investigation uncovered evidence that led executives to "question the integrity" of the values, or marks, that traders assigned to their trades.

JPMorgan also said that it planned to revoke two years' worth of pay from some of the senior managers involved in the bad bet, and that it had closed the division of the bank responsible for the mistake.


With slower growth, China can't play economic hero

BEIJING (AP) — China's economic growth fell to a three-year low, and a potential recovery later this year will probably be too weak to pull the world out of its slump.

The world's second-largest economy grew by 7.6 percent over a year earlier in the three months ending in June, its slowest since early 2009 during the global crisis, data showed Friday.

Analysts pointed to strong bank lending as a sign of a possible recovery in the second half, but slower growth in retail sales and factory output left them uncertain how fast or how vigorously the economy will improve.


NY Fed told of interest rate manipulation in '07

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released documents Friday that show it learned five years ago of big banks understating their borrowing costs to manipulate a key interest rate.

The documents also show Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent.

A congressional panel requested the documents and is investigating manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) rate, which affects the interest paid on loans.

The process for setting LIBOR has come under scrutiny since Britain's Barclays bank admitted two weeks ago that it had submitted false information to keep the rate low. In settlements with U.S. and British regulators, the bank agreed to pay a $453 million fine.


Visa, MasterCard in $6 billion credit card settlement

Visa, MasterCard and major banks have agreed to pay $6 billion to millions of merchants to end a dispute over card fees.

The dispute involved payments called interchange fees that merchants paid in credit card transactions.

The law firm representing the merchants said in a statement that about 7 million merchants were represented in the settlement. Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi said the case is believed to be the largest settlement of a private antitrust case under the Sherman Act.

The class action suit goes back to 2005, and involves most major U.S. banks as defendants. The merchants include supermarket chains Kroger Inc. and Safeway Inc., Rite Aid Corp., QVC Inc., the National Association of Convenience stores, and a long list of other trade groups and small merchants.


After Facebook freeze, IPO market starts to thaw

NEW YORK (AP) — With new public stock offerings for guitar maker Fender and travel booking website Kayak on deck next week, there are signs demand is starting to grow for IPOs after a five-week freeze triggered by a steep decline in financial markets and exacerbated by Facebook's rocky May 18 debut.

Five companies are scheduled to go public next week alone, including Fender, Kayak and Palo Alto Networks, a maker of computer network security products. After Facebook, just four deals made it to market by the end of June, marking the longest stretch without an initial public offering of stock since August-October 2011. Stocks sank then in the wake of the U.S. debt limit showdown and a deepening European financial crisis.

The resurgence now is a welcome indication that dealmakers are regaining confidence about raising money through IPOs.


CEO of troubled Iowa brokerage in court, charged

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A federal prosecutor says the chief executive of an Iowa-based brokerage firm carried out a $200 million fraud scheme that could land him in prison for years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said Friday that Peregrine Financial Group Inc. CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. could face "a wide range of criminal charges" for the scheme in which he allegedly falsified bank records to embezzle customer funds for 20 years.

Deegan made the comment during Wasendorf's initial federal court appearance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on charges that he made false statements to financial regulators. Another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.


Mortgage applications boost Wells Fargo results

Wells Fargo's net income and revenue rose in the second quarter, driven by a pickup in lending and a decline in the number of bad loans.

The San Francisco-based bank reported an 18 percent increase in net income Friday, to $4.4 billion, compared with $3.7 billion in the same period a year ago.

On a per-share basis, the bank earned 82 cents, in line with estimates of analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue of $21.3 billion was also in line with analysts' expectations.


US wholesale prices rise 0.1 percent in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale prices rose only slightly last month, as higher costs for food and pickup trucks offset another drop in energy prices. Overall inflation stayed mild, leaving the Federal Reserve room to take steps to boost the economy.

The Labor Department said Friday that the producer price index increased 0.1 percent in June from May. That followed a 1 percent drop in May from April. In the past 12 months, wholesale prices have risen 0.7 percent. That matches May's pace, which was the slowest for 12 months, since October 2009.

While inflation was largely tame, food prices increased 0.5 percent in June from May. The price of meat rose 3.1 percent, the biggest increase in nearly a year.


Ford says Europe sales off 10 percent in 1st half

DETROIT (AP) — The slowing economy dragged down Ford Motor Co.'s European sales during the first half of the year, with the company predicting that the region's overall sales would drop to the lowest level since 1994.

Ford sales fell 10 percent from January through June in 19 Western European markets, and they worsened in June, falling 16 percent from a year ago, the company said in a statement Friday.

The report confirms predictions from analysts and many major automakers that Europe will continue to be a drain on company profits for the foreseeable future. Ford has warned that its second-quarter profit will be lower than a year ago in part due to growing losses in Europe. The car maker reports second-quarter earnings on July 25.


Macy's wins temporary block against Martha Stewart

NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney's woes keep piling on. In the latest string of troubles, Macy's won a preliminary injunction against Martha Stewart Living that would prevent it from selling some of its products at the chain.

The decision from the New York State Supreme Court on Friday is a setback for Penney, which has been counting on the popularity of the Martha Stewart brand as part of its efforts to help revitalize its business under new CEO Ron Johnson.

Macy's Inc. sued Martha Stewart Living in January, saying that it had exclusive rights to certain categories of the brand until 2018. The complaint was filed after J.C. Penney acquired a 16.6 percent stake in Martha Stewart Living and announced plans in December to open Martha Stewart mini-shops beginning next year.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 203.82 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 12,777.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 22.02 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,356.78 and the Nasdaq composite gained 42.28 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,908.47.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose by $1.02 to finish at $87.10 per barrel in New York, while Brent crude rose by $1.14 to $101.42 per barrel in London.

In other futures trading, heating oil rose by 1.49 cents to end at $2.7882 per gallon and wholesale gas added a penny to finish at $2.8161 per gallon. Natural gas was unchanged, ending the week at $2.8740 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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