Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: May 11, 2012 6:02 PM
Business Highlights


JPMorgan loss sets off call for heavier regulation

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A surprise $2 billion trading loss by a division of JPMorgan Chase triggered calls Friday for tougher regulation of banks three years after their near-death experience in the financial crisis.

Shares of the largest bank in the U.S. lost more than 9 percent of their value, and other American and British banks suffered heavy losses as well.

JPMorgan Chase said Thursday that it lost the money in a trading group designed to manage the risks that it takes with its own money. CEO Jamie Dimon said the bank's strategy was "egregious" and poorly monitored.

The disclosure, a surprise to stock analysts, quickly revived debate about whether banks can be trusted to handle risk on their own in the age of "too big to fail."


Weaker China, India data signal slowing growth

SHANGHAI (AP) _ Weaker data from China and India on Friday may signal a further softening of the global recovery, undermining hopes the dynamic emerging economies of Asia can help prop up growth.

China reported its industrial production rose 9.3 percent from a year earlier in April, below expectations and down from nearly 12 percent in March. Investment and retail sales also slowed, though easing inflation offers leeway for fresh moves to boost growth.

India's industrial output fell 3.5 percent in March from a year earlier on weak manufacturing and investment. Output for the fiscal year ending in March rose 2.8 percent, down from 8.2 percent the year before.


FDA reviews first rapid, take-home test for HIV

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Food and Drug Administration is considering approval of the first over-the-counter HIV test that would allow consumers to quickly test themselves for the virus at home, without medical supervision.

FDA reviewers said Friday the OraQuick In-Home HIV test could play a significant role in slowing the spread of HIV, according to briefing documents posted online. But they also raised concerns about the accuracy of the test, a mouth swab that returns results in about 20 minutes.

The review comes one day after an FDA advisory panel endorsed the HIV pill Truvada for preventive use. If FDA follows the group's advice, the daily medication would become the first drug approved to prevent healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS.


Cheaper gas drives US wholesale price index lower

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A big decline in gas and energy costs drove a measure of U.S. wholesale prices lower in April. Outside that drop, prices barely rose.

The Labor Department said Friday that the producer price index dropped 0.2 percent last month from the previous month. It was the first decline since December and the biggest one-month drop since October.

Wholesale gas prices fell 1.7 percent last month. That accounted for half the drop in energy costs, which was the only major category to decline.


Facebook updates data use policy to give more info

NEW YORK (AP) _ Facebook is updating its data use policy in an attempt to give people more clarity on how the company uses information they share.

As part of the changes, Facebook is also signaling that it may start showing people ads on sites other than Facebook, targeting the pitches to interests and hobbies that users express on Facebook.

The move comes a week before Facebook Inc.'s expected initial public offering of stock. Facebook held events with potential investors this week, including one in Silicon Valley on Friday, and it has posted a version of its road show online. The offering could value Facebook at nearly $100 billion _ more than Kraft, Ford and other major brands.


Kroger CEO got 66 percent pay bump in 2011

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Kroger Co. gave CEO David Dillon a 66 percent pay bump last year largely as a reward for the company's improved performance.

The nation's largest traditional supermarket chain gave its top executive a pay package worth $8.9 million, up from $5.4 million in 2010, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing made Friday.

The hike reflected a bigger cash performance bonus, which rose to $2.7 million, from $808,020. The Cincinnati-based grocer, which operates Kroger, Ralphs, Food 4 Less and other chains, uses a formula based on the company's financial results to determine annual incentive pay for its executives. The higher payout this year also included a long-term bonus of $619,000 that was instituted in 2008.

Since then, the board has twice instituted additional long-term bonuses that will result in Dillon collecting extra pay for the next two years as well. That's on top of the annual bonuses he will get.


Post office will not ship laptops, iPads abroad

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. Postal Service is banning international shipments of electronics using lithium batteries _ such as smartphones, laptops and iPads _ citing the risk of fire.

Beginning Wednesday, consumers may no longer make the shipments, including to army and diplomatic post offices. That means friends and family will have to use more expensive private companies such as UPS and FedEx to ship electronics to U.S. troops based abroad.

Enough's Enough
Walter E. Williams

The Postal Service cited discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union. They issue semi-binding guidelines for global trade.


American Airlines agrees to study merger idea

DALLAS (AP) _ American Airlines says it is agreeing with creditors to consider potential mergers.

American parent AMR Corp. says that the company and its bankruptcy creditors agreed to develop "potential consolidation scenarios," but that didn't mean it would pursue a deal with any particular party.

AMR management has said for months that it wants American to emerge from bankruptcy protection as an independent airline, but that hasn't stopped US Airways, a smaller but profitable competitor, from trying to combine with American.


Spain makes new attempt to heal banking sector

MADRID (AP) _ Spain told its banks on Friday to set aside another (EURO)30 billion ($40 billion) to cover potential losses on real estate and ordered an independent audit of their debts, an effort to restore confidence in a sector that is at the heart of the country's financial crisis.

After Spain's property market collapsed in 2008, banks have been saddled with bad loans and foreclosed property, estimated at around (EURO)184 billion as of the end of 2011. That has weighed on the economy.

The big fear, however, is that if banks start failing the government will be overwhelmed by the cost. Saving Spain could prove too expensive for Europe's bailout funds, threatening the existence of the 17-country euro currency bloc.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 34.44 points to close at 12,820.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.60 points to close at 1,353.39. The Nasdaq composite index, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, was up 0.18 points to 2,933.82.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 95 cents to finish at $96.13 in New York. Brent crude, which helps set the price for oil imported into the U.S., lost 47 cents to end at $112.26 per barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil lost 2 cents to finish at $2.9636 per gallon, and wholesale gasoline fell nearly a penny to end at $3.008 per gallon. Natural gas rose 2.2 cents to finish at $2.509 per 1,000 cubic feet.