U.S. economy focus of State of the Union
The U.S. economy, the expected focus of Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech, is much healthier than it was four years ago. Yet growth remains slow and unemployment high.
In early 2009, the nation’s economy was in trouble following the collapse of the housing bubble and the disintegration of mortgage-backed investments. Companies were slashing jobs. The unemployment rate was surging. Auto sales reached a 26-year low.
The recovery has been agonizingly slow, but now companies are hiring modestly but steadily. Home prices are finally rebounding as sales and housing starts have recovered. And Americans are buying cars again.
Apple CEO: Shareholder lawsuit is ‘‘silly sideshow’’
Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling a shareholder lawsuit against the company a ‘‘silly sideshow,’’ even as he said he is open to looking at shareholder proposals for sharing more cash with investors.
Investor David Einhorn sued Apple Inc. last week, saying a proposal slated for a vote at the company’s annual meeting in two weeks will make it more difficult to enact his plan to reward shareholders by distributing a new class of shares.
Cook said Apple’s proposal puts more power in the hands of shareholders, making it difficult to understand why a shareholder would fight it. Cook also said that the company is ‘‘seriously’’ looking at ways to hand out more cash to shareholders.
January surplus shrinks 2013 US budget deficit
The federal government reported a rare surplus for January and is on track to run the lowest annual deficit since President Barack Obama took office.
The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the government took in a surplus of $2.9 billion in January, helped by nearly $9 billion more in Social Security taxes. Last month Congress and the White House allowed a temporary cut in Social Security taxes to expire.
Through the first four months of the 2013 budget year, the deficit has grown $290.4 billion. That’s nearly $60 billion lower than the same period a year ago.
G7 seeks to defuse currency war fears
The Group of Seven leading industrial nations, which includes the U.S., Japan and Germany, warned Tuesday that volatile movements in exchange rates could adversely hit the global economy.
There have been increasing concerns around the world that countries might manipulate their exchange rates through their domestic economic policies in order to gain an edge. The process could spark a ‘‘currency war’’ — where countries compete against one another to get the lowest exchange rates.
The G-7 finance ministers and central bankers insisted they remained committed to exchange rates driven by the market — not government or central bank policies — and will consult closely when it comes to sharp movements in foreign currency markets.
Likely Treasury chief Lew faces early budget tests
The to-do list that awaits Jacob Lew, President Barack Obama’s choice to be Treasury secretary, is daunting.
Bridge disputes in Congress on taxes and spending. Shrink budget deficits. Manage tense economic ties with China. Press Europe to reduce debts while fighting a recession. Defend the U.S. financial overhaul law. Prevent a global currency war.
And those are just the obvious challenges.
Comcast to buy GE’s 49 pct. stake in NBCUniversal
Comcast says it’s buying General Electric’s 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal joint venture for $16.7 billion.
Comcast Corp. had bought a majority stake in the television and movie company in 2011. It had planned to take a larger stake in it over time.
Coca-Cola’s profit climbs but obstacles loom
Coca-Cola is facing a tough time: People are drinking less soda in the U.S. and Europe and uncertain economic conditions around the world weigh on the world’s biggest drinks maker.
The Atlanta-based company said Tuesday that its profit rose in the fourth quarter, as it benefited from growth in emerging markets and a shift in the calendar that resulted in two extra selling days for the period. But sales volume fell in China and Europe, reflecting a pullback in consumer spending.
In North America, its biggest market by revenue, volume rose just 1 percent, boosted by its Powerade sports drinks and bottled teas. The company sold 2 percent less soda.
S&P parent expects to beat gov’t ratings lawsuit
Standard & Poor’s is prepared to spend years beating back a federal lawsuit that accuses the company of giving falsely high ratings to mortgage investments that helped trigger the financial crisis, executives said Tuesday.Continued...