Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2011 6:17 PM
Business Highlights

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Jobs emerges from leave to unveil synching service

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Apple CEO Steve Jobs briefly emerged from a medical leave Monday to unveil a free service that lets customers share calendar entries, songs and other files among their devices more easily.

The company also announced new software to make Mac computers behave more like mobile devices and Apple's mobile devices more like rival smartphones.

Jobs received a standing ovation as he appeared at Apple Inc.'s annual developers' conference, his second major public appearance since he went on medical leave in January for unspecified reasons and duration.

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Usually a job engine, localities slow US economy

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a healthy economic recovery, states and localities start hiring, expand services and help fuel the nation's growth.

Then there's the 2011 recovery.

The U.S. economy is moving ahead, however fitfully. Yet state and local governments are still stuck in recession. Short of cash, they cut 30,000 jobs in May, the seventh straight month they've shed workers. Rather than add to U.S. economic growth, they're subtracting from it.

And ordinary Americans are feeling it _ from reduced services to fewer teachers, police officers and firefighters.

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Economic concerns sink stocks for 4th straight day

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks were lower for a fourth straight day with banks and energy companies leading the decline. Worries about a slowing economy also continued to weigh on the broader market Monday.

Losses came across the stock market. All 10 industry groups in the S&P index fell. Energy and financial companies each lost 2 percent.

The biggest U.S. banks each declined 2 percent or more, following a speech by a Federal Reserve board member Friday that indicated banks may be required to set aside more cash to cover potential losses. If the proposal were to take effect, banks would be left with less money to lend, which could hurt their earnings. Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. each lost more than 4 percent, and JP Morgan Chase dropped 2.5 percent.

Airlines stocks dropped after an industry group cut its profit estimates for this year by half. The group blamed disasters in Japan, unrest in the Middle East and higher fuel prices. Delta Air Lines and AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, each lost more than 3 percent.

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Diamond withdraws nomination for Fed board

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond is withdrawing his nomination for the Federal Reserve board, expressing frustration with Republicans who had blocked his appointment and questioned his practical experience.

Diamond said it would be easy to blame his failed nomination on partisan politics, in an op-ed piece first published on The New York Times website on Sunday and in its print edition on Monday. But a more troubling explanation, he wrote, was that Republicans failed to recognize the value of his decades spent analyzing what causes unemployment. He said such study is "crucial to conducting monetary policy."

"It is time for me to withdraw, as I plan to inform the White House," Diamond wrote.

His withdrawal was a setback for President Barack Obama, who had nominated and re-nominated Diamond to fill a vacancy on the seven-member board.

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Katie Couric makes move to ABC for talk show

NEW YORK (AP) _ Katie Couric has worked in morning television, the evening news and now _ thanks in part to Oprah Winfrey _ will try out a daytime talk show.

Winfrey's exit from the market she dominated for much of the last two decades is providing Couric with an opening. The former "CBS Evening News" anchor and "Today" show host and ABC announced their long-anticipated deal on Monday, setting September 2012 for the premiere of Couric's new show.

"Oprah leaving made it seem like it was feasible," Couric said. "because to go up against Oprah would be pretty terrifying. I don't think anybody could really do that."

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International Paper makes $3.3 billion bid for Temple-Inland, which Temple-Inland rejects

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Packaging and building materials maker Temple-Inland is rejecting a $3.3 billion unsolicited takeover bid from larger rival International Paper Co., saying the offer is too low and would face heavy regulatory scrutiny.

Memphis-based International Paper proposed a bid of $30.60 per share _ or around $3.3 billion _ for all outstanding shares of Austin, Texas-based Temple-Inland. That represents a premium of about 45 percent over Temple-Inland's closing stock price of $21.01 on Monday. Temple-Inland's shares have traded as high as $26.21 in the past year.

Temple-Inland said the bid undervalues its business. Temple-Inland said International Paper is acting now because Temple-Inland's building materials business has weakened in the economic downturn. Temple-Inland makes particleboard, gypsum board and other building materials.

Temple-Inland added that the deal would likely be scrutinized by federal antitrust regulators.

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Former UAL, Texaco CEO steps in at JP Morgan

Glenn Tilton, the former chief executive of both United Airlines parent UAL Corp. and oil company Texaco, was named chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Midwest business and a member of its executive committee on Monday. Tilton replaces William (Bill) Daley, who took over as White House chief of staff in January.

Following in the footsteps of someone as well-connected as Daley would be difficult for many people. But Tilton brings with him decades of influence in Washington, strong business ties across the Midwest and a deep understanding of the regulatory process.

He's also a veteran of Congressional inquiry, having testified before Congress many times during his four-decade career in the oil and airline industries. With banks still under a regulatory microscope over their role in the mortgage mess and the financial crisis, Tilton's experience will come in handy.

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Germany backtracks on sprouts as E. coli source

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) _ First they pointed a finger at Spanish cucumbers. Then they cast suspicion on sprouts from Germany. Now German officials appear dumbfounded as to the source of the deadliest E. coli outbreak in modern history, and one U.S. expert has called the investigation a "disaster."

Backtracking for the second time in a week, officials Monday said preliminary tests have found no evidence that vegetable sprouts from an organic farm in northern Germany were to blame.

The surprise U-turn came only a day after the same state agency, Lower Saxony's agriculture ministry, held a news conference to announce that the sprouts appeared to be the culprit in the outbreak that has killed 22 people and sickened more than 2,330 others across Europe, most of them in Germany, over the past month.

Andreas Hensel, head of Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, warned, "We have to be clear on this: Maybe we won't be able anymore to identify the source."

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Madoff payroll manager pleads guilty

NEW YORK (AP) _ An employee who has been singled out as a member of Bernard Madoff's "inner circle" pleaded guilty on Monday to charges that he doctored documents to fool auditors, faked payroll records and obtained a loan by inflating the value of his personal accounts.

Eric Lipkin, a second-generation Madoff employee who worked at Madoff's secretive investment advisory business for 16 years, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bank fraud and falsifying financial records in a cooperation deal with prosecutors. The 37-year-old admitted his role in Madoff's epic fraud.

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By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 61.30 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,089.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 13.99 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,286.17. It was the first time the S&P index closed below 1,300 since March 23. The Nasdaq composite fell 30.22, or 1.1 percent, to 2,702.56.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery lost $1.21 to settle at $99.01 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude has been within a few dollars of the $100 mark for about a month.

In other Nymex trading in July contracts, heating oil lost 3.93 cents to settle at $3.0174 per gallon and gasoline futures gave up 4.32 cents to settle at $2.9499 per gallon. Natural gas added 12 cents to settle at $4.827 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude lost $1.36 to settle at $114.48 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.