Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2010 6:01 PM
Business Highlights

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Despite freezes, US still racking up foreclosures

MIAMI (AP) _ For most Americans at risk of losing their homes, the brutal business of foreclosure goes on.

Bank of America halted foreclosures across the country to address paperwork problems, but three other banks did so only in 23 states. Other banks holding millions of mortgages have not suspended any foreclosures.

In the other 27 states, judges don't have to review foreclosures. A homeowner must sue the bank for that to happen. Paperwork mistakes and fraud are even harder to discover, legal experts say.

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States aim to force changes in foreclosure process

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Attorneys general in up to 40 states want to force mortgage companies to revamp the way they handle foreclosures, pay financial penalties for violations and expand help to homeowners on the verge of foreclosure.

The attorneys general are discussing the outlines of a settlement that would seek to correct the problems with foreclosure documents that have surfaced in recent weeks, said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who will lead a joint investigation. The inquiry is scheduled to be announced Wednesday morning.

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Intel's net leaps 59 pct, shares rise

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Intel Corp.'s third-quarter results showed Wall Street something that many anxious investors were itching to see: a sign that economic edginess hasn't ruined consumers' appetite for new PCs as much as originally feared going into the critical holiday shopping season.

Intel said Tuesday that its net income leaped 59 percent and sales rose 18 percent, both topping analysts' expectations.

Those expectations had been tamped down in August when Intel cut its guidance, blaming weak consumer PC demand that has rippled across the computer industry.

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Fed Minutes: Consensus builds for debt purchase

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Consensus is building at the Federal Reserve for a new program to pump up the economy through the purchase Treasury bonds.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues appeared to be closing in on the idea at their September meeting, according to minutes of the closed-door deliberations that were released Tuesday. Economists predict Fed officials will approve the program at their Nov. 2-3 meeting.

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Stocks end higher after release of Fed minutes

NEW YORK (AP) _ Traders pushed shares higher Tuesday after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting kept hope alive that the central bank would take more action to stimulate the economy.

The Fed had said after its Sept. 21 meeting that it was concerned that inflation was too low, and suggested it could step up its purchases of government bonds and take other action to encourage lending.

Minutes from the September meeting, released Tuesday afternoon, indicated that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues were nearing a consensus on what steps to take. Traders are hoping for more concrete news from the Fed following its next meeting in early November.

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Administration lifts 6-month oil drilling freeze

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Obama administration, under heavy pressure from the oil industry and others in the Gulf Coast, on Tuesday lifted the moratorium on deep water drilling that it imposed in the wake of the disastrous BP oil spill.

The six-month ban had been scheduled to expire Nov. 30, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was moving up that deadline because new rules imposed after the spill have strengthened safety measures and reduced the risk of another catastrophic blowout.

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GMAC enlists independent review of foreclosures

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ GMAC Mortgage said Tuesday that it has enlisted several legal and accounting firms to conduct independent reviews of its foreclosure procedures nationwide as questions grow over whether lenders improperly took back properties from thousands of homeowners.

The company, a unit of Ally Financial Inc., also said a review of cases in 23 states has found no evidence to date that the company has conducted any inappropriate foreclosures.

GMAC and other mortgage lenders have come under criticism as evidence has surfaced that they have been using flawed court papers to evict homeowners. That has led state and federal officials to ramp up pressure on the mortgage industry.

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Pfizer will buy King Pharmaceuticals for $3.6B

NEW YORK (AP) _ Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday that it will buy a company specializing in pain drugs in a $3.6 billion deal meant to shore up the portfolio of the world's largest drug company.

The deal to buy King Pharmaceutical Inc. is Pfizer's largest since it bought rival Wyeth for $68 billion in 2009. Pfizer already has a large stake in the pain drug market with its drugs Lyrica and Celebrex, which combined for more than $5 billion in sales in 2009. But now the company is betting that King's work on "abuse-resistant" pain drugs will pay off and help make up for the revenue it will lose when top sellers such as the cholesterol drug Lipitor no longer have patent protection in a few years.

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High hopes for iPad push Apple shares near $300

SEATTLE (AP) _ Apple Inc.'s stock flirted with $300 Tuesday as investors high on the iPad's promise pushed shares to a record peak. Analysts see few reasons to believe shares will stop there.

As was the case with the iPhone, Apple's iPad is setting the standards for this generation of tablet computers as competitors scramble to match the design and functions.

So far, no credible challengers have hit the market. Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer has promised Windows-based tablets, but so far there are no solid details. Meanwhile, tablets based on Google Inc.'s Android system are starting to emerge, but they have smaller screens than the iPad's.

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Making sense of Google's seemingly kooky concepts

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ In its self-proclaimed drive to make the world a better place, Google has immersed itself in far more than Internet search and online ads. But driverless cars and a wind energy farm in the Atlantic Ocean?

It may not always be immediately apparent to frustrated investors _ they wish management would be more frugal and focus more on the stock price _ but there's usually some calculated logic underlying Google's unconventional strategy.

Google's brain trust _ founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, along with CEO Eric Schmidt _ clearly think differently than most corporate leaders, and may eventually encourage more companies to take risks that might not pay off for years, if ever.

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Lions Gate offers to combine with MGM

NEW YORK (AP) _ Lions Gate is offering to combine its business with MGM in a deal supported by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who owns stakes in both studios.

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. said Tuesday it has sent a proposal for a combination with financially troubled Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Lions Gate said the combined company would be owned by its shareholders and by MGM's creditors. These include Icahn.

Terms weren't disclosed, though a report in the Los Angeles Times said the deal would give MGM's lenders a 55 percent in the combined company. Lions Gate and MGM declined to comment.

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By The Associated Press

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 15.59, or 0.7 percent, to 2,417.92, while the Dow Jones industrial average rose 10.06 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,020.40.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.45, or 0.4 percent, to 1,169.77.

Benchmark crude for November delivery fell 54 cents to settle at $81.67 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading in November contracts, heating oil fell 1.65 cents to settle at $2.2625 a gallon, gasoline dropped 4.16 cents to settle at $2.1239 a gallon and natural gas rose 2.8 cents to settle at $3.629 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude fell 22 cents to settle at $83.50 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.