Update on the latest business


Associated Press

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 3:02 AM


Stocks rise ahead of earnings season

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks ended modestly higher Monday, shrugging off an early decline, as investors waited to see whether big U.S. companies would deliver on expectations of strong earnings in 2013.

Alcoa became the first major U.S. company to report earnings late Monday, and the results were mostly good. The aluminum maker's income was higher than analysts were expecting, but its revenue fell slightly short of expectations. Later this week the pace picks up with reports from Bed Bath & Beyond, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 14,613.48. The S&P 500 index closed up 9.79 points, or 0.6 percent, at 1,563.07. The Nasdaq composite index rose 18.39 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,222.25.


Asian stocks up, Japan's Nikkei extends gains

BANGKOK (AP) — Japan's benchmark stock index rose for a fifth straight day today, extending a rally sparked last week after the Bank of Japan announced a bold program to revive the country's moribund economy. Other Asian stock markets were modestly higher.

The head of Japan's central bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, on Thursday delivered on promises to take aggressive action to shake Japan out of nearly two decades of growth-crippling deflation. He unveiled plans to pump huge amounts of money into the economy via government bond purchases and pursue a 2 percent inflation target in order to spark lending and spending.

Benchmark crude oil rose and remains above $93 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro but gained against the yen.


Business and economic reports due out this week.

UNDATED (AP) — Its earnings season again and in addition to those reports, the Commerce Department will report today on February's wholesale trade inventories. Also, the Labor Department will release its job openings and labor turnover survey for February.

The Treasury Department reports the federal budget for March on Wednesday and the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its March interest-rate meeting.

On Thursday, there are some potential market-moving reports. The Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims, and mortgage-giant Freddie Mac reports the weekly mortgage rates.

Also on Thursday, selected chain retailers release March sales comparisons.

Two big banks report quarterly financial results on Friday: JPMorgan Chase; and Wells Fargo.

Also on Friday, investors will get a look at the retail sales data for March from the Commerce Department as well as business inventories for February. And the Labor Department will release the Producer Price Index for March.


House revives cyber bill that privacy groups hate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Intelligence Committee is trying to revive legislation that would let industry and the federal government swap information on the latest cyber threats.

The bill stalled last year after privacy advocates said it would open American's private Internet records like bank accounts and email to agencies such as the FBI and National Security Agency.

But with fresh accusations from industry that the Chinese government is hacking into U.S. networks and stealing billions of dollars in trade secrets, Reps. Mike Rogers of Michigan and Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland say they think the bill can become law with some changes.

The House panel plans to mark up the legislation on Wednesday, with a floor vote possible next week. Its prospects in the Senate and at the White House are unclear.


JC Penney ousts CEO Ron Johnson

NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney is naming Mike Ullman as its new CEO. He takes over from Ron Johnson, who is leaving the company.

Ullman was head of the department store chain, based in Plano, Texas, prior to Johnson's appointment to the top spot in 2011 in an effort to halt the department store chain's sliding earnings.

Johnson came under pressure after his turnaround strategy failed to win over shoppers. His drastic changes included slashing the number of sales in favor of everyday low prices, bringing in hipper designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores.

J.C. Penney shares dropped 42 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $15.45 in after-hours trading.


United Airlines puts 787s in schedule for May 31

CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines is putting its Boeing 787s back in the flight schedule, even though the plane is still grounded by government authorities.

United acknowledged on Monday that the plane is in its schedule starting May 31. Travel website Jaunted.com noted a 787 flight from Houston to Denver that day.

United Continental Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Christen David says the airline will make more schedule changes as it gets a better idea of when the plane will be cleared to fly. It's planning to resume international 787 flying June 10, from Denver to Tokyo.

Boeing Co. has proposed a fix for the 787's smoldering batteries, but it needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. The fix will then have to be installed on each plane. United owns six 787s.


Exec threatens to pull Fox signal if Aereo goes on

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A top executive with the owner of the Fox broadcast network is threatening to convert the network to a subscription channel on cable or satellite TV if Internet after a negative court ruling.

Fox says startup Aereo Inc. continues to "steal" Fox's over-the-air signal and sell it to consumers without paying for rights.

Although anyone with an antenna can pick up a station's signals for free, cable and satellite companies typically pay stations and networks for the right to distribute their programming to subscribers. Industrywide, those retransmission fees add up to billions of dollars every year. Aereo says it's not subject to those fees.

A federal appeals court said Aereo could continue its service despite a legal challenge by broadcasters. Aereo takes broadcast signals for free from the air with thousands of little antennas, recodes them for Internet use and feeds that to subscribers' computers, tablets and smartphones. Plans start at $8 a month, which is much cheaper than a cable package, though the service is mostly limited to broadcast channels.

News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said that not being paid by Aereo jeopardizes the economics of broadcast TV.


Senate confirms White to head SEC

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Mary Jo White's nomination as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, making her the first former prosecutor to lead the federal agency that oversees Wall Street.

White was approved Monday by a Senate voice vote. She will replace Elisse Walter, who has been interim SEC chairman since Mary Schapiro resigned in December.

President Barack Obama nominated White, who had served as U.S. attorney in Manhattan from 1993 through 2002.

Critics have complained that the SEC has failed to act aggressively to charge top executives at the biggest U.S. banks who may have contributed to the crisis that set off the Great Recession.

White told the Senate Banking Committee last month that she would aggressively pursue enforcement and hold accountable "all wrongdoers — individual and institutional, of whatever position or size."


NH: Exxon Mobil ignored warnings on gas additive

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Jurors in New Hampshire's groundwater contamination case against Exxon Mobil are expected to begin deliberations today after getting instructions from the judge.

In closing arguments yesterday, they were asked to decide whether the state is seeking a scapegoat or whether the company was protecting its profits, not the environment, by adding MTBE to its gasoline.

Jessica Grant, an attorney arguing for the state, said internal Exxon Mobil memos dating back to 1984 warned of the ethical and environmental consequences of MTBE, an additive designed to reduce smog. The state wants jurors to hold Exxon Mobil liable to the tune of $240 million to monitor and clean up wells and public water systems contaminated by the chemical.

Lawyers for Exxon Mobil countered that MTBE — methyl tertiary butyl ether — was used to comply with federal Clean Air Act requirements. They also blame any lingering contamination on third parties not named in the state's decade-old lawsuit.


Hospital group says 'alarm fatigue' can be deadly

CHICAGO (AP) — An alarm is being raised about hospital alarms.

A hospital accrediting group says workers have been "desensitized" by the constantly beeping alarms from devices that monitor the vital signs of the critically ill. The group says workers sometimes ignore the noise, leading to at least two dozen deaths a year on average.

The Joint Commission also says these cases are probably vastly underreported. The commission issued an alert to hospitals calling attention to the problem.

The beeping devices include those that measure blood pressure and heart rate among other things. Some beep when there's an emergency, and some beep when they're not working. That can lead to noise fatigue and the delay in treating a patient can endanger lives.

Complicating the situation is the abundance of technology, with no standardization for what the beeps mean, said Dr. Ana McKee, the commission's executive vice president and chief medical officer.