Stocks rise in Wednesday trading
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks gained ground Wednesday after comments from President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner led to optimism about a deal to avoid pushing the U.S. over the "fiscal cliff". The Dow rose 107 points to 12,985. The S&P was up 11 to 1,410. The Nasdaq surged 24 points to 2,992.
Asia stocks up on hopes for a US budget deal
BANGKOK (AP) — Signs that U.S. political leaders may be closing in on a budget deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" boosted Asian stock markets today.
Comments by President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner that a deal to avoid a budget crisis could be reached before year's end was enough to boost markets in the face of disappointing U.S. home sales, a critical indicator of whether the economy is improving.
Concern that the U.S. will go over the fiscal "cliff" has weighed on stocks since the Nov. 6 elections returned a divided government to power, with Obama staying in the White House and Republicans retaining control of the House of Representatives.
Benchmark crude oil rose but hung below $87 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro but rose against the yen.
GDP, jobless claims data due
WASHINGTON (AP) — Several economic reports are due this morning, with weekly jobless claims and third quarter growth due first.
Also, the National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales for October. Also, Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.
Obama, Romney to meet at White House Thursday
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will host his former political rival Mitt Romney for a private lunch at the White House today. It is their first meeting since the election.
Obama promised in his victory speech earlier this month to engage with Romney following their bitter campaign and consider the Republican's ideas.
Obama aides say they reached out to Romney's team shortly before Thanksgiving to start working on a date for the meeting. The two men will meet in the White House's private dining room, with no press coverage expected.
Romney will also meet with his former running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan is back on Capitol Hill, where he's involved in negotiations to avert a series of automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts.
Former aides confirm that Romney is expected to move into an office at the Boston-area venture capital firm Solamere Capital. The firm was founded by his oldest son, Tagg Romney, and Spencer Zwick, who served as his presidential campaign's national finance chairman.
It's unclear what role, if any, Romney will play at the firm.
White House, Congress talk as 'fiscal cliff' nears
WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama administration officials are heading to Capitol Hill for talks that come amid increasing anxiety that the White House and top Republicans are wasting time as the government slides toward an economy-rattling "fiscal cliff."
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (GYT'-nur) and top White House aide Rob Nabors are to visit separately Thursday with the four House and Senate leaders to discuss how to avert a series of tax increases and spending cuts due to begin in January. Republicans complain that the White House is slow-walking the talks and has yet to provide specifics on how President Barack Obama would curb the rapid growth of benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
There's been little evident progress in negotiations between the White House and the lead GOP negotiator, House Speaker John Boehner.
Report: Economy boosted entrepreneurship in 2011
NEW YORK (AP) — The slow improvement in the economy gave a huge boost to entrepreneurship in the U.S. last year.
That's the finding of a study released Thursday by Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and Baruch College in New York. The study shows that more than 29 million people were starting or running new businesses last year. That was a 60 percent gain from 2010, when entrepreneurship was hurt by uncertainty about the economy.
The gain also matched the increase in entrepreneurship recorded in 2005, when the economy and small businesses were booming.
Researchers at the colleges say the report's findings are a good sign for the economy. It says nearly 40 percent of the entrepreneurs it counted expected to create more than five new jobs each in the next five years.
Activists: China at center of illegal timber trade
BEIJING (AP) — An environmental group says China's voracious demand for wood has put it at the center of the illegal timber trade, causing other countries to strip their forests as Beijing does little to discourage the practices.
In a report released Thursday, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency says countries as far away as Mozambique and the Solomon Islands as well as Myanmar, Laos and other Chinese neighbors are felling rare hardwoods and other trees at unsustainable rates to fulfill Chinese demand.
The report says that Chinese buyers are undermining international agreements to stop illegal logging and the exports of rare species by making payoffs and using smuggling networks. The report accuses China of exporting deforestation.
Chinese government agencies declined initial comment, saying they had not seen the report.
Fed survey: US economy growing at steady pace
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says an improvement in consumer spending and steady home sales helped lift economic growth from October through early November in most parts of the U.S.
The Northeast, however, was slowed by Superstorm Sandy. The survey says growth improved in nine of the Fed's 12 regional banking districts. Growth was weaker in New York, Philadelphia and Boston — areas where Sandy caused widespread disruptions.
The "Beige Book" survey notes that growth was better despite nervousness about the "fiscal cliff." That's the name for automatic tax increases and spending cuts that could kick in next year if Congress and the Obama administration can't reach a budget deal before then.
Hiring increased in more than half of the districts. But manufacturing shrank or slowed in seven regions and was mixed in two others.
Information collected by the regional banks will be used as the basis for the Fed's policy discussion at the Dec. 11-12 policy-setting meeting.
Moody's cuts H-P long-term debt rating to Baa1
NEW YORK (AP) — Moody's Investors Service is lowering its long-term credit rating for Hewlett-Packard, saying the technology giant will have trouble increasing sales of many of its products.
Moody's says it lowered H-P's senior unsecured credit rating by one notch, to "Baa1". The rating agency cites concerns that the company's finances will remain weaker than previously expected "over the immediate term."
Moody's senior vice president Richard Lane notes that about 75 percent of H-P's revenue comes from personal computers, enterprise servers, printers and services. He said those offerings "face slow to no growth prospects over the coming years."
Lane says it is uncertain whether H-P can restore growth and profitability. He said the company's revenue will likely decline next year and its profit margin will narrow.
Kodak reaches improved financing deal worth $830M
NEW YORK (AP) — Struggling photo pioneer Eastman Kodak Co. will get loans worth $830 million in a new financing package that replaces a $793 million deal.
The new package also has a longer maturity and lower fees. The offer comes from a committee of 10 institutional investors who all hold senior secured notes in Kodak.
The Rochester, N.Y., company says the funds will allow it to complete its reorganization and emerge from bankruptcy protection in the first half of next year.
The financing is subject to bankruptcy court approval and requires the company to complete the sale of its digital imaging patent portfolio for at least $500 million.
Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January after struggling to adapt to the world of digital photography.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-CALL CENTER
Southwest to merge 3 AirTran call centers
DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines Co. said Wednesday that it will consolidate three AirTran Airways reservations call centers into a single facility in Atlanta.
Centers in Savannah and Carrollton, Ga., will close July 31, Southwest said.
The company said it will offer the 159 employees in Savannah and 126 in Carrollton other jobs in Atlanta or at other call centers.
The Atlanta facility will open in May and handle all calls to AirTran, which Southwest bought last year. Eventually the center will take Southwest calls. It will be the airline's seventh call center and the first in the Eastern time zone.
FACEBOOK SCHEME ARREST
NY businessman pleads not guilty to fraud charge
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York man arrested on criminal fraud charges after he claimed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had years ago promised him half ownership in the company has pleaded not guilty.
Paul Ceglia entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan. Ceglia remains free on bail two days after an indictment was returned.
His lawyer, David Patton, said the Wellsville, N.Y., businessman will ask that a trial on fraud charges be moved outside of New York. Ceglia was arrested in late October on mail and fraud charges.
The government says Ceglia doctored a software development contract he signed with Zuckerberg in 2003 to make it appear Ceglia would receive half ownership in Facebook in exchange for $1,000 in startup money for the budding company.
DeCinces indicted for insider trading
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Baltimore Orioles third baseman Doug DeCinces and three others have been indicted on insider trading charges for allegedly profiting from information prior to the takeover of a Southern California medical device company.
DeCinces was charged Wednesday with 42 counts of securities fraud and one count of money laundering. He is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 17.
Prosecutors say DeCinces received information from an official at Advanced Medical Optics, Inc. regarding a takeover offer by Abbott Laboratories. Authorities say DeCinces made about $1.3 million after he bought stock in Advanced Medical Optics and sold it soon after Abbott's tender offer was publicly announced.
DeCinces last year agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
It wasn't immediately known if DeCinces had retained an attorney.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar dies at age 86
DALLAS (AP) — Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, who wrote more than 30 books on living a balanced life, has died in Texas. He was 86.
According to his personal assistant, Ziglar had been suffering from pneumonia. He died Wednesday at a hospital in a Dallas suburb.
With an aim at helping people achieve success in their careers and personal lives, in addition to a focus on Christianity, Ziglar was a prolific speaker who appeared at events alongside world leaders including several U.S. presidents and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Ziglar started his fulltime career in motivational speaking when he was in his 40s. His first book, "See You at the Top," was published in 1975, when he was 49.Tags: