Update on the latest in business:


Associated Press

Posted on June 17, 2013 at 3:02 AM


Disappointing reports help push US stocks down

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors are wondering if the stock market will rebound this week. Disappointing reports about the U.S. economy helped push the market lower on Friday.

The Dow dropped 106 points or 0.7 percent. The S&P 500 sank 9 ½ points, or 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq composite lost nearly 22 points, or 0.6 percent

Americans' confidence in the economy weakened in June and was lower than economists had estimated, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey. A second report said factories weren't as busy as expected.

Another big concern among traders is that the Federal Reserve could announce plans to cut back its stimulus program this week. Fed policymakers begin a two-day meeting to set interest rates on Tuesday.


Asian stocks higher on hopes US will keep stimulus

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Asian stocks edged up today amid hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve will put off plans to wind down its stimulus program.

Disappointing reports about the U.S. economy weighed on Wall Street stocks Friday, as did concerns that the Federal Reserve could announce plans to cut back its stimulus program later in the week.

Markets have been spooked since late May when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank might pull back on its aggressive support for the U.S. economy if indicators, especially hiring, improve. Policymakers at the Fed will start a two-day meeting Tuesday to discuss the central bank's next steps.

Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia, said he doesn't think the Fed is ready to harness in its stimulus program just yet.

Benchmark crude oil fell and remains below $98 per barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the yen.


Business and economic reports scheduled for the coming week

WASHINGTON — There's only one economic report scheduled for release today. It's The National Association of Home Builders' housing market index for June.

On Tuesday, the Labor Department releases the Consumer Price Index for May and the Commerce Department reports on May housing starts. Also Tuesday, Federal Reserve policymakers begin a two-day meeting to set interest rates.

The Fed's policymakers meet again on Wednesday. They'll release a statement and economic forecast at 2:00 p.m. Eastern followed by a news conference with Chairman Ben Bernanke at 2:30 p.m.

Also Wednesday, FedEx reports quarterly financial results.

On Thursday, the Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims; Freddie Mac has the weekly mortgage rates; The National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales figures for May; And the Conference Board will report on May's leading indicators.

Also on Thursday, Oracle reports quarterly financial results, along with Kroger.


G-8 leaders to mull Syria, tax evasion, free trade

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (AP) — Leaders of the world's most powerful economies are gathering today at a resort in Northern Ireland for a two-day summit.

They hope to narrow their differences on Syria's civil war, promoting freer trade between Europe and North America and combating global tax evasion.

Police commanders in Northern Ireland say they're optimistic the G-8 summit will pass peacefully, with only 2,000 protesters expected to travel to the remote lakeside area for Monday night's main planned demonstration.

The host, British Prime Minister David Cameron, is pushing for more sharing of financial information among countries. In his final pre-summit declaration, Cameron says his country would lead by example by setting up a registry that reveals who is behind so-called "shell companies" that obscure their true owners.

Cameron is being joined by President Barack Obama, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.

Cameron says all G-8 members must cooperate more to restrict companies' ability to exploit foreign tax shelters as a way to boost government revenue and economic growth.


Report: UK spies hacked foreign diplomats

LONDON (AP) — The Guardian newspaper says that the British eavesdropping agency GCHQ hacked into the emails and phones of foreign diplomats at international conferences to get an edge in high-stakes international negotiations.

The report published late Sunday is the latest in a series of revelations which have ignited a worldwide debate over the scope of Western intelligence gathering. But unlike previous revelations targeting the U.S. National Security Agency, this story focuses on Britain's GCHQ.

The report, based on leaked documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, said that GCHQ stole diplomats' passwords and surreptitiously read their emails at a G-20 conference in 2009.

GCHQ did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The story's publication comes ahead of this week's G-8 summit in Northern Ireland.


Italy approves measures aimed at boosting economy

ROME (AP) — The Italian government has adopted a series of measures aimed at boosting the economy, including the release of 3 billion euros ($4 billion) for infrastructure projects projected to create 30,000 new jobs.

Premier Enrico Letta said the measures, based on recommendations from the European Union commission, would help Italians contribute to restarting the moribund economy. Ministers deliberated for more than six hours on the package Saturday.

The varied package of measures include relaxing procedures for collecting tax debt from crisis-stricken citizens, allowing universities to hire more researchers and reducing taxes on boats and yachts to help relieve an industry hit by earlier austerity-driven measures.

Letta earlier pledged to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that Italy intended to reduce its deficit to under 3 percent of GDP.


Paris Air Show peek: Wide-body battle and drones

PARIS (AP) — The Paris Air Show opens for business today.

There is the usual competition between aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, and a slew of innovations.

The much-anticipated Airbus A350 flew for the first time on Friday, launching a new air race between the European plane maker and Boeing for long-haul wide-body aircraft.

The race for the title of biggest plane maker is as tight as ever. Over the whole of 2012, Airbus delivered 588 planes. That was a record, but one Boeing beat with 601 deliveries, the first time since 2003 it came out on top.

Also, drones are increasingly being used for non-military purposes and are expected to feature prominently at the Paris Air Show. Eurocopter, a company based in France, will showcase new technology that can transform a manned helicopter into one that flies without a pilot.

Noticeably absent from the show for the first time in more than two decades will be American fighter jets thanks to the U.S. government's spending cuts - the infamous 'sequestration'.

Russia, on the other hand, is looking to make a splash by presenting fighters and military helicopters at the show for the first time since 2001.

Less flashy but just as important for the industry will be the myriad technological innovations that parts suppliers will come to Paris to present. The biggest issue: reducing fuel costs.


Weyerhaueser names new CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Weyerhaeuser Co., one of the world's largest lumber companies, says its board has named Doyle Simons as its new CEO, effective Aug.1.

Simons, who is 49, has been a director of Weyerhaeuser since February 2012 and was most recently CEO and chairman of International Paper subsidiary Temple-Inland. He will succeed Dan Fulton, who turns 65 this year and will retire as planned.

The company also says it has signed a deal to buy Longview Timber LLC. for $2.65 billion from affiliates of Brookfield Asset Management. The transaction, which includes the assumption of debt, is expected to close next month.

As part of the deal, Weyerhaeuser is acquiring 645,000 acres of unique high-quality timberlands in Washington and Oregon that are near the company's existing acreage. Weyerhaeuser says the deal will expand its timber holdings in the Pacific Northwest by a third, to about 2.6 million acres, and increase the total amount of U.S. timberlands it owns or controls to about 6.6 million acres.

In a separate release, the Federal Way, Wash.-based company says it's exploring strategic alternatives for its real estate company that could include a merger, a sale or spin-off of the business.


'Man of Steel' takes flight with $125M debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Man of Steel" leaped over box office expectations in a single weekend.

According to studio estimates, the Warner Bros. superhero film earned $113 million in its opening weekend at the box office.

The Superman tale starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams earned an additional $12 million from Thursday screenings, bringing its total to $125 million. Original expectations for the film ranged from $75 million to $130 million.

Sony's "This Is the End" opened in second place with $20.5 million in its opening weekend. The apocalyptic comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco opened Wednesday, banking a total of $32.8 million.

In its third weekend, "Now You See Me" earned $10 million in third place, bringing its total to $80 million.