Business news in brief

Illegal street vendors scatter to avoid police in Madrid. The government has imposed severe austerity measures to try to prevent Spain from asking for a bailout like those granted to Greece and other countries. King Juan Carlos used his annual Christmas Eve message to appeal for national unity to overcome the economic crisis. PAUL WHITE / AP
Illegal street vendors scatter to avoid police in Madrid. The government has imposed severe austerity measures to try to prevent Spain from asking for a bailout like those granted to Greece and other countries. King Juan Carlos used his annual Christmas Eve message to appeal for national unity to overcome the economic crisis. PAUL WHITE / AP
Posted: December 25, 2012

In the Region

Fed: Mixed job picture for region

Unemployment declined in November in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and total jobs were up in Pennsylvania and Delaware, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said, citing U.S. Labor Department numbers. But the net number of jobs fell by 8,100 in New Jersey - mostly due to Hurricane Sandy - and resulted in a net regional job loss of 0.1 percent, said the bank, which tracks the three-state economy. Over eight times more unemployment claims were filed in New Jersey last month than in November 2011. To compare, November claims were four times higher this year for New York and a little under three times higher in Pennsylvania compared with 2011, the bank said. - Reid Kanaley

FDA warns on fake Botox

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned 350 medical practices in a letter that the Botox they may have received from a Canadian pharmacy could be counterfeit or unsafe. The pharmacy is called Canada Drugs. The agency said the medicine was unapproved for use in this country because it does not have access to test its safety. The FDA website has the letter that was sent to providers and the list of doctors to whom it went. The list included two doctors in Wilmington, two in Pennsylvania (Reading and Lititz), and several in North Jersey. The real Botox is made by Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif. - David Sell

Radian up on Freddie's approval

Shares of Philadelphia-based Radian Group Inc., the mortgage insurer whose stock more than doubled this year, gained 5.3 percent after Freddie Mac extended the approval of a Radian subsidiary to sell coverage. Radian rose 27 cents to close at $5.40. It has rallied more than 130 percent this year. Freddie Mac, the government mortgage buyer, approved Radian Mortgage Assurance to write coverage through the end of next year, Radian said in a statement after the close of trading Friday. The approval gives Radian a method to continue selling insurance if other units breach regulatory limits of risk relative to capital, according to the statement. - Bloomberg News

Elsewhere

Record for illegal-worker audits

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reached its highest number yet of companies audited for illegal immigrants on their payrolls this past fiscal year. Audits of company I-9 forms increased from 250 in fiscal year 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. From fiscal years 2009 to 2012, the total amount of fines grew to nearly $13 million from $1 million. The number of company managers arrested has increased to 238. The probing of employers is one of the pillars of President Obama's immigration policy. He has also said that any plan Congress considers this year to reform the nation's immigration system should continue the audits. Immigrant advocates say the audits have pushed workers further underground. - AP

Georgia counties sue HSBC

Three Atlanta-area counties have filed a lawsuit claiming that British bank HSBC cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and damage to their tax bases by aggressively signing minorities to housing loans that were likely to fail. The Georgia counties' failure or success with the relatively novel strategy could help determine whether other local governments try to hold big banks accountable for losses in tax revenue based on what they claim are discriminatory or predatory lending practices. Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb Counties say in their lawsuit that the housing foreclosure crisis was the "foreseeable and inevitable result" of big banks, such as HSBC and its American subsidiaries, aggressively pushing irresponsible loans or loans destined to fail. The counties say that crisis has caused them tremendous damage. - AP

Crude prices fall slightly

The price of oil fell slightly during a shortened pre-Christmas trading day. Concerns over the political stalemate in Washington continue to be the focus of traders, with the price of U.S. benchmark oil closing down five cents to $88.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The average U.S. price for gasoline rose 1.5 cents over the weekend to $3.247 a gallon. Regular unleaded costs nearly 2 cents more than a year ago. In other energy futures trading: Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, fell 17 cents to $108.80 a barrel; natural gas fell 10.5 cents to $3.346 per 1,000 cubic feet; heating oil eased 2 cents to $3 a gallon; and wholesale gasoline rose 1.6 cents to $2.75 a gallon. - AP

Americans missing out on stocks

Americans have missed out on almost $200 billion of stock gains as they drained money from the market in the last four years, haunted by the financial crisis. Assets in equity mutual, exchange-traded and closed-end funds increased about 85 percent to $5.6 trillion since the bull market began in March 2009, trailing the Standard & Poor's 500 Index's 94 percent advance, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Morningstar Inc. The proportion of retirement funds in stocks fell about 0.5 of a percentage point, compared with an average rise of 8.2 percentage points in rallies since 1990. Individuals are withdrawing money as political leaders struggle to avert budget cuts that threaten to throw the economy into a new slump. - Bloomberg News

BlackBerry maker under pressure

Research in Motion Ltd.'s pricing power with carriers shows signs of slipping after the BlackBerry maker was forced to cut subscriber service fees as demand for its smartphones in emerging markets slows. Chief executive officer Thorsten Heins, who will introduce the BlackBerry 10 operating system next month, told analysts that RIM faces pressure to reduce fees to "stay relevant in our markets." - Bloomberg News

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|