Stuck with high gas prices, drivers just pump less
Americans have pumped less gas every week for the past year.
During those 52 weeks, gasoline consumption dropped by 4.2 billion gallons, or 3 percent, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. The decline is longer than a 51-week slide during the recession.
The main reason is higher gas prices. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.89, the highest ever for this time of year, and experts say it could reach $4.25 by late April. As a result, Americans are taking fewer trips to restaurants and shopping malls. When they take a vacation, they're staying closer to home.
The decline in gas consumption is also a sign that efforts to push carmakers to produce vehicles with better gas mileage are paying off. The average new car now gets nearly 24 miles to the gallon, compared with about 20 mpg just four years ago, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
Jim Kim: Obama makes surprise pick for World Bank
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Passing over better-known candidates, President Barack Obama on Friday nominated global health expert and Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to lead the World Bank. It was a surprise pick aimed in part at fending off challenges from developing nations eager to end the U.S. monopoly of the top job at the international institution.
Obama's selection of Kim all but guarantees that the 52-year-old physician and pioneer in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world will take over the helm of the World Bank. The South Korean-born Kim will extend a tradition of American World Bank presidents dating back to the organization's founding in 1944.
The 187-nation World Bank focuses on fighting poverty and promoting development. It is a leading source of development loans for countries seeking financing to build dams, roads and other infrastructure projects.
US new-home sales fell in February for 2nd month
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sales of U.S. new homes fell in February for the second straight month, a reminder that the depressed housing market remains weak despite some improvement.
The Commerce Department said Friday that new-home sales dropped 1.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 homes. Sales have fallen nearly 7 percent since December.
While a mild winter and three months of strong job growth have lifted re-sales, those conditions haven't benefited the new-home market. The current pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists consider healthy.
Economists cautioned that the housing market is a long way from fully recovering.
For long-unemployed, hiring bias rears its head
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Few job seekers who fail to get an interview know the reason, but Michelle Chesney-Offutt said a recruiter told her why she lost the chance to pitch for an information technology position.
The 54-year-old, who had been laid off from her IT job in Illinois, said the recruiter who responded to her online resume two years ago liked her qualifications and was set to schedule an interview. But he backed away, she said, when he learned she had been out of work for 13 months.
The employer he represented would not consider applicants who were unemployed for more than six months, she said.
BATS withdraws IPO after technical glitches
NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock market operator BATS Global Markets pulled its initial public offering following a series of technical glitches.
The stock, which traded on BATS' own exchange, had been priced to trade at $16 per share but plunged shortly after trading began. BATS also said it was having technical problems with trading in other stocks. Shares of Apple Inc. were halted briefly following an unusual trade on BATS.
Also Friday the Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating rapid-fire, computerized stock trading practices and whether they give traders an unfair advantage. The Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter, said the investigation includes BATS. The SEC declined to comment.
Bernanke says crisis exposed vulnerabilities
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that the slow recovery from the Great Recession and 2008 financial crisis illustrates how vulnerable the global economy is. He urged economic policymakers to learn from that lesson.
The Federal Reserve chairman noted the extraordinary steps taken by the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world to stabilize financial systems, during a two-day conference on the crisis
The Fed purchased more than $2 trillion in bonds to try and push long-term interest rates lower. The effort was aimed at encouraging lending and borrowing. The Fed has been criticized for those purchases, but Bernanke has defended them as a successful effort that guarded against an even more severe downturn.
Bank of America starts foreclosure rental program
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bank of America has launched a pilot program that will let some homeowners at risk of foreclosure become renters and stay in their homes.
Fewer than 1,000 borrowers in Arizona, Nevada and New York will be enrolled in the test program, which began this week. Those selected will transfer the title of their homes back to Bank of America and have their mortgage debt forgiven.
The homeowners can rent the homes for up to three years at or below their area's market rental rate. The rental payments will be less than the borrowers' mortgage payments, the bank said. And they will not have to pay property taxes or homeowner's insurance.
KB Home posts smaller 1Q loss as revenue rises
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ KB Home said Friday that cancellations on contracts for new homes spiked in its fiscal first quarter, driving home orders down 8 percent as it heads into the spring home-selling season.
The company, which reported a sharply smaller loss for the December-to-February quarter, said the surge in canceled orders was due in part to some mortgage lenders backing away from making loans even after the buyers had been preapproved for financing.
Orders also took a hit because KB raised prices in some communities in a bid to capitalize on signs that demand for housing is strengthening.
Facebook warns employers not to demand passwords
NEW YORK (AP) _ Facebook is warning employers not to demand the passwords of job applicants, saying that it's an invasion of privacy that opens companies to legal liabilities.
The social networking company is also threatening legal action.
An Associated Press story this week documented cases of job applicants who are being asked during hiring interviews to reveal their Facebook passwords to prospective employers who want to check their backgrounds.
In a post on Friday, Facebook's chief privacy officer cautions that if an employer discovers that a job applicant is a member of a protected group, the employer may open itself up to claims of discrimination if it doesn't hire that person.
Zynga founder, other insiders to sell 43 million shares
NEW YORK (AP) _ Zynga's CEO and other insiders at the online games company plan to sell 43 million shares of stock in a public offering that will boost the amount of stock available for general trading by 35 percent.
Class B stock owned by Mark Pincus and others will be converted to regular, Class A shares. All shares have the same ownership value, but Class B stock has seven times the voting power.
Pincus, who founded Zynga Inc. in 2007, will control about 35 percent of the company once the offering is complete. He will retain his Class C shares, which have 70 times the voting power of Class A stock.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 34.59 points, or 0.3 percent, at 13,080.73. The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 4.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,397.11 and the Nasdaq composite rose 4.6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,067.92.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose by $1.52 to finish at $106.87 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil imported by U.S. refineries, rose by $1.99 to end at $125.13 in London.
In other energy trading, heating oil futures added 3 cents per gallon to finish at $3.21 and gasoline rose 5 cents to end at $3.39 per gallon. Natural gas futures rose less than a penny to finish at $2.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.