The nation’s No. 2 automaker is doubling its quarterly payout to 10 cents a share, just nine months after paying its first dividend in more than five years.
The dividend increase marks another milestone in Ford’s comeback. It has strengthened its image with customers along with its balance sheet. Ford is expected to report its fourth consecutive annual profit when it releases earnings in a few weeks. In 2011, the company posted its largest profit since 1998.
US unemployment aid applications tick up to 371,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits ticked up slightly last week, the latest sign of slow but consistent gains in the job market.
The Labor Department said Thursday that applications rose 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 371,000, the most in five weeks. The previous week’s total was revised lower.
The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 6,750 to 365,750. It had fallen to a four-year low the previous week.
New federal rules aim to curb risky mortgages
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators for the first time are laying out rules aimed at ensuring that mortgage borrowers can afford to repay the loans they take out.
The rules unveiled Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau impose a range of obligations and restrictions on lenders, including bans on the risky ‘‘interest-only’’ and ‘‘no documentation’’ loans that helped inflate the housing bubble.
Lenders will be required to verify and inspect borrowers’ financial records. The rules discourage them from saddling borrowers with total debt payments totaling more than 43 percent of a person’s annual income. That includes existing debts like credit cards and student loans.
Herbalife defends itself against Ackman’s claims
NEW YORK (AP) — Herbalife came out swinging Thursday against claims made by hedge fund manager William Ackman that the business amounts to a pyramid scheme.
But Ackman didn’t back down, saying in a statement that Herbalife ‘‘distorted, mischaracterized, and outright ignored large portions’’ of Pershing Square Capital Management’s December presentation.
A series of Herbalife’s executives looked to refute Ackman’s allegations during an analyst and investor meeting earlier in the day, laying out everything from how the business operates to who its customers are.
Critics have questioned the company’s business model, which uses a network of distributors to sell its nutritional supplements and weight-loss products in more than 80 countries.
FDA requires lower doses for sleep medications
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is requiring makers of Ambien and similar sleeping pills to lower the dosage of their drugs, based on studies suggesting patients face a higher risk of injury due to morning drowsiness.
The agency said Thursday that new research shows that the drugs remain in the bloodstream at levels high enough to interfere with alertness and coordination, which increases the risk of car accidents.
Regulators are ordering drug manufacturers to cut the dose of the medications in half for women, who process the drug more slowly. Doses will be lowered from 10 milligrams to 5 milligrams for regular products, and 12.5 milligrams to 6.25 milligrams for extended-release formulations.
The FDA is recommending that manufacturers apply these lower doses to men as well, though it is not making that a requirement.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 80.71 points at 13,471.22. The Nasdaq composite rose 15.95 points to 3,121.76. The S&P 500 rose 11.10 points to 1,472.12.
Benchmark oil gained 72 cents to finish at $93.82 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 13 cents to finish at $111.89 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London
Natural gas rose 8 cents, or 2.5 percent, to end at $3.19 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline added 1 cent to end at $2.79 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to finish at $3.05 a gallon.