Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 25, 2010 6:08 PM
Business Highlights

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Fed throws its weight into foreclosure probe

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Raising pressure on banks, the Federal Reserve is wading into the investigation of whether mortgage lenders cut corners and used flawed documents to foreclose on homes.

Major banks are already under investigation by state officials with subpoena power, who could force them to detail how they handled hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke added weight to those efforts Monday by saying the central bank would look "intensively" at policies and procedures that might have allowed banks to seize homes improperly.

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Home sales up in Sept. but more troubles ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sales of previously occupied homes rose last month after the worst summer for the housing market in more than a decade. And fears over flawed foreclosure documents could keep buyers on the sidelines in the final months of the year.

Sales grew 10 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

Home sales have declined 37.5 percent from their peak annual rate of 7.25 million in September 2005. They have risen from July's rate of 3.84 million, which was the lowest in 15 years.

Most experts expect roughly 5 million homes to be sold through the entire year. That would be in line with last year's totals and just above sales for 2008, the worst since 1997.

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Focus on global currency pact turns to enforcement

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Facing the risk of a dangerous trade war, top finance officials from the world's leading rich and developing nations looked each other in the eye and vowed they wouldn't use their currencies as economic weapons to boost exports.

The agreement that the members of the Group of 20 reached the past weekend in South Korea, though vague on enforcement and long on promises, was hailed Monday by officials and analysts as a step forward in defusing tensions.

Still, it could turn out to be nothing more than a symbolic handshake unless the disparate forum that has become the board of directors for the global economy after the 2008 financial crisis can act on its words and build a viable enforcement mechanism.

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Stocks extend gains as dollar falls

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rose moderately Monday on growing expectations that the Federal Reserve will take steps to boost the economy _ and possibly send inflation climbing as well.

A falling dollar that contributed to a jump in commodity prices also helped push the Dow Jones industrial average up 31 points to its highest close since late April.

Traders are widely expecting the Fed to expand its program to buy bonds as a way to stimulate the economy. That would push bond yields down and, in turn, would make stocks a more attractive investment.

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BP CEO hits back at media and politicians

LONDON (AP) _ BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley accused some politicians and the media on Monday of being too hasty to pin all the blame on his company for the devastating Gulf of Mexico spill.

In his first major public speech since taking the top job, Dudley also said BP would not pull out of the United States. The U.S. needs a company with BP's resources to meet its vast energy demands, he said, while emphasizing the need for deep-water drilling.

Dudley delivered a speech whose mood hovered between firm and penitent, seeking to make clear that BP was learning every lesson possible from the disaster. He stressed that he also has met with experts from other hazardous industries, including the nuclear and chemical industries, as part of the company's focus on improving safety.

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CommScope in talks with Carlyle on $2.98B buyout

NEW YORK (AP) _ CommScope Inc. is talking to asset management firm Carlyle Group about being taken private in a deal valued at about $2.98 billion.

The network infrastructure company said Monday that Carlyle Group would pay $31.50 per share in cash, a 36 percent premium over its closing price Friday. CommScope currently has 94.7 million outstanding shares, according to Thomson Reuters.

Shares of CommScope jumped more than 30 percent.

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AIG Chief diagnosed with cancer

NEW YORK (AP) _ American International Group Inc. said Monday that its president and chief executive officer, Robert Benmosche, has been diagnosed with cancer.

The insurer said Benmosche is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy. He said in a statement his long-term prognosis is good.

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As bedbugs creep out NYC, tourists crawl away

NEW YORK (AP) _ New York City's bedbugs have climbed out of bed and marched into landmarks like the Empire State Building, Bloomingdale's and Lincoln Center, causing fresh anxiety among tourists who are canceling Big Apple vacations planned for the height of the holiday season.

Some travelers who had arranged trips to New York say they are creeped out about staying in hotels and visiting attractions as new reports of bedbugs seem to pop up every few days. And officials in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration are concerned about the effect on the city's image and $30 billion tourism industry.

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US newspaper circulation down, decline rate slows

NEW YORK (AP) _ U.S. newspaper circulation fell over the past six months at the slowest rate in two years.

Figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show that while circulation is no longer in free fall, spending on newspapers is not picking up the way it has for many other consumer goods coming out of the Great Recession.

Several trends factor in the decline. Free news on the Web is a big reason. Publishers also have been looking to offset reductions in advertising revenue by raising newsstand and subscription prices, losing some paying customers in the process. And some newspapers have reduced delivery to less profitable areas, figuring the cost of trucking newspapers far afield doesn't pay off in extra advertising dollars.

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A Walkman Obit: Remembering the portable player

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Walkman, the Sony cassette device that forever changed music listening before becoming outdated by digital MP3 players and iPods, has died. It was 31 years old.

Sony announced Monday that it has ceased production of the classic, cassette tape Walkman in Japan, effectively sounding the death knell of the once iconic, now obsolete device.

The Walkman is survived by the Discman (still clinging to life) and ironic music listeners who think using a Walkman in this day-and-age is charmingly out-of-touch.

It will continue to be produced in China and distributed in the U.S., Europe and some Asian countries. Digital Walkmans are also being made with models that display lyrics and have improved digital noise-canceling technology.

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By The Associated Press

For the second time in the past week, the Dow Jones industrial average eclipsed its highest closing level this year only to quickly pullback. It closed at 11,205.03 on April 26. The average rose 31.49, or 0.3 percent, to 11,164.05. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 index rose 2.54, or 0.2 percent, to 1,185.62, while the technology-focused Nasdaq composite index rose 11.46, or 0.5 percent, to 2,490.85.

Benchmark crude rose 83 cents to settle at $82.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Natural gas for November delivery lost 1.5 cents to settle at $3.317 per 1,000 cubic feet on the Nymex.

In other energy trading, heating oil added 0.34 cent to settle at $2.2550 per gallon, and gasoline gained 1.35 cents to settle at $2.0773 a gallon.

In London Brent crude rose 58 cents to settle at $83.54 on the ICE Futures exchange.