Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2012 6:06 PM

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Dow leaps 286 points, best day of the year

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 286 points Wednesday, its best day this year.

The rally started early and gathered force in the afternoon. The charge turned the Dow positive for 2012 and erased the biggest loss of the year less than a week after it happened: the 275-point plunge set off by a dismal U.S. jobs report on Friday.

The Dow gained 2.4 percent to close at 12,414.79.

The big jump follows weeks of losses. Hope that European officials would find ways to ease the region's debt crisis helped launch the rally. News reports said Germany and European Union officials were considering a plan to lend money from the European bailout fund to help rescue Spain's hobbled banks.

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Honda Fit electric vehicle gets highest EPA fuel economy rating

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) _ The Honda Fit electric car has received the highest fuel efficiency rating ever from the Environmental Protection Agency, the company said Wednesday.

Honda said the 2013 subcompact received a combined adjusted mile-per-gallon-equivalency rating of 118.

The Fit consumes 29 kilowatt hours of electricity per 100 miles. It has an EPA-rated annual fuel cost of $500. Honda said the EPA estimates its combined city and highway driving range at 82 miles on a single charge.

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ECB holds rates, lets crisis squeeze politicians

FRANKFURT (AP) _ The European Central Bank withheld the stimulus of an interest rate cut Wednesday, keeping up the pressure on eurozone politicians to take decisive action _ even as growth predictions worsened and fears intensified that Spain may need help bailing out its banks.

The 23-member governing council left its benchmark refinancing rate unchanged Wednesday at a record low 1.0 percent.

ECB President Mario Draghi cited economic growth forecasts for a gradual recovery this year in justifying the decision not to cut rates. Rate cuts are supposed to help growth by lowering business borrowing costs. Some analysts, however, said the bank's expectations of only a 0.1 percent decline over the full year were overly optimistic.

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Taco Bell introducing more upscale menu items

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Taco Bell, often a late-night indulgence with its inexpensive fare, is going more upscale.

The chain said Wednesday that it plans an early July rollout of a menu addition created by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia for its nearly 5,600 U.S. restaurants. New items feature such ingredients as black beans, cilantro rice, citrus- and herb-marinated chicken and cilantro dressing.

The introduction of items that Taco Bell executive Brian Niccol described as "gourmet Mexican," is a venture onto the turf of casual-dining chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Qdoba Mexican Grill known for higher-quality ingredients.

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Regulator: JPMorgan had `inadequate' risk controls

WASHINGTON (AP) _ JPMorgan Chase had weak controls in place to contain risk in its investment division that suffered a $2 billion-plus trading loss, a key federal regulator said Wednesday.

U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry told the Senate Banking Committee that the nation's largest bank began reducing the amount of hedging it was doing to minimize potential losses at the end of 2011. Curry's agency is examining JPMorgan's risk-containment policies in the weeks before it suffered the trading loss.

A Federal Reserve official told the Senate panel that a draft rule that seeks to prevent banks from trading for their own profit might have flagged JPMorgan's risks earlier.

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Fed survey finds US growth, hiring mostly steady

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. economy grew moderately in most regions of the country this spring and companies kept hiring, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday

The mostly upbeat survey offered hopeful signs after last week's more dismal data on hiring and manufacturing. Those reports sketched a picture of an economy that is slumping after a promising winter.

The positive survey, which is anecdotal, also makes it less likely that Fed policymakers will take further action in the coming months to lift the economy. The survey doesn't suggest the economy is in dire need of help, many economists said.

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Barrick removes CEO on disappointing share price

NEW YORK (AP) _ Canada's Barrick Gold Corp., the world's largest gold producer, ousted CEO and President Aaron Regent, citing its disappointing share price performance.

The announcement was sudden and the decision effective immediately. But there were questions over the company's explanation for the change. Barrick has a history of strong earnings and an industry-leading position.

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Nasdaq sets aside $40 million for Facebook investors

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Nasdaq stock exchange said Wednesday that it plans to hand out $40 million in cash and credit to reimburse investment firms that got ensnared by technical problems while trading Facebook stock.

FINRA, the financial industry's self-regulatory group, will review claims for compensation.

Facebook went public May 18 amid great fanfare. But computer glitches at the Nasdaq plagued the day. They delayed the opening of trading by half an hour and kept some investors from buying shares in the morning, selling them later in the day, or even from knowing whether their orders went through. Some investors complained that the technical problems left them holding shares that they didn't want.

Nasdaq will pay about $14 million in cash to investment companies that file valid claims. The rest will be given as credit for the costs that firms have to pay to trade on the Nasdaq.

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Some LinkedIn passwords stolen, leaked online

LONDON (AP) _ Business social network LinkedIn said Wednesday that some of its users' passwords have been stolen and leaked onto the Internet.

LinkedIn Corp. did not say how many of the more than six million passwords that were distributed online corresponded to LinkedIn accounts. In a blog post Wednesday, the company said it was continuing to investigate.

Graham Cluley, a consultant with U.K. Web security company Sophos, recommended that LinkedIn users change their passwords immediately.

LinkedIn has a lot of information on its more than 160 million members, including potentially confidential information related to jobs being sought. Companies, recruiting services and others have accounts alongside individuals who post resumes and other professional information.

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US worker productivity fell 0.9 percent annual rate

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. worker productivity fell by the largest amount in a year from January through March. The steeper drop than first estimated suggests companies would need to hire more if demand were to pick up.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that productivity fell at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the first quarter. That's faster than the initial 0.5 percent annual decline for the period estimated last month.

Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work. It fell at a faster rate than first estimated because revisions showed less output and slightly more hours worked.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 286 points, or 2.4 percent, to close at 12,414.79. Standard & Poor's 500 rose 29.63 points to 1,315.13. The Nasdaq composite rose 66.61 points to 2,844.72.

Benchmark oil rose 73 cents to finish at $85.02 per barrel Wednesday in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price varieties of international oil, gained $1.80 to end at $100.64 per barrel in London.

In other trading, heating oil rose 3.81 cents to end at $2.6717 per gallon and gasoline increased 0.56 cent to $2.6903 per gallon. Natural gas dropped 2.5 cents to $2.421 per 1,000 cubic feet.