Stock market rally pauses on Monday
NEW YORK (AP) — A record-breaking rally in stocks took a pause Monday as investors assessed whether the rise in stock valuations overstated the recent improvement in the economy.
The latest positive data, out Monday, showed that Americans increased spending at retailers last month. That suggests that consumers may boost economic growth in the current quarter ending June 30. Still, that wasn't enough to lift shares.
The Dow fell 26.81 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,091.68. The S&P 500 index was little changed at 1,633.77. The Dow is up 15.2 percent this year, and the S&P 500 is 14.6 percent higher. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.21 points, 0.1 percent, to 3,438.79.
Retail sales increased 0.1 percent in April from March, according to the Commerce Department. That's an improvement from the 0.5 percent decline in March, which was the largest drop in nine months. Economists had forecast that sales declined by 0.3 percent.
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed today in a lukewarm reaction to data showing that U.S. consumers revved up their retail spending last month.
The Commerce Department in Washington said retail sales increased 0.1 percent in April from March, an improvement from March's 0.5 percent decline. Economists had forecast that sales declined by 0.3 percent in April.
Benchmark crude oil rose to remain above $95 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
TEXTING AND DRIVING
Big 4 cellphone carriers unite on anti-texting ads
NEW YORK (AP) — The country's four biggest cellphone companies are set to launch their first joint advertising campaign against texting while driving, uniting behind AT&T's "It Can Wait" slogan to blanket TV and radio this summer.
The multi-million dollar ad campaign is unusual not just because it unites rivals, but because it represents companies warning against the dangers of their own products. After initially fighting laws against cellphone use while driving, cellphone companies have begun to embrace the language of the federal government's campaign against cellphone use by drivers.
Beyond TV and radio ads, the new campaign will stretch into the skies through displays on Goodyear's three blimps. It will also include store displays, community events, social-media outreach and national tour of a driving simulator. The campaign targets teens in particular.
Drug manufacturer agrees to $500 million penalty
WASHINGTON (AP) — A subsidiary of an Indian pharmaceutical company has agreed to pay $500 million in fines and civil penalties as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Ranbaxy USA Inc. has admitted to making and selling adulterated generic drugs at two manufacturing sites in India.
The U.S. Justice Department said Monday that it's the largest financial penalty paid by a generic drug company for violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Prosecutors say the batches of adulterated drugs included generic versions of an antibiotic and other medications used to treat severe acne, epilepsy and nerve pain.
The company also admitted making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration.
IRS: Top official first told of targeting in 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service says acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller was first informed in May 2012 that tea party groups were inappropriately targeted for scrutiny.
A month later he wrote a member of Congress to explain the process of reviewing applications for tax-exempt status without mentioning the controversy.
Over the past year, numerous lawmakers raised concerns with the IRS about complaints that tea party groups were being harassed. Each time the agency responded without mentioning that groups had been targeted. Miller provided some of those responses.
The agency apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see whether they were violating their tax-exempt status. In some cases, the IRS acknowledged, agents inappropriately asked for lists of donors.
LinkedIn looks to build on its impressive resume
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — LinkedIn and Facebook will celebrate the anniversaries of their IPOs just a few days apart this week. But their experiences as publicly traded companies couldn't be more different.
LinkedIn Corp. promotes its service as a stepping stone to a more enriching career. As it turns out, the professional networking company's initial public offering was a great place to start a rewarding investment portfolio, too. LinkedIn's stock has nearly quadrupled in value from its $45 IPO price on May 20 two years ago. On Monday, it closed at $175.03 per share. In contrast, Facebook's stock is hovering around $27 per share, down 29 percent since debuted on May 18, 2012 at $38.
LinkedIn is emerging as the standout performer among its cohort of hotly anticipated IPOs from Internet companies that connect people with common interests. The company is growing faster and yielding far better shareholder returns than the rest of a class that includes online deals maker Groupon Inc., Web game maker Zynga Inc. and business review site Yelp Inc., as well social networking leader Facebook Inc.
With the exception of Yelp, the stocks of all those other companies are stuck well below their initial public offering prices. Although Groupon and Zynga have fared worse, Facebook has been the highest-profile disappointment.
GM says supercomputers to keep recalls in check
WARREN, Mich. (AP) — General Motors Co. says a new supercomputing data center and a fledgling shift to bring software development in-house should help it limit the size of future safety recalls.
The Detroit automaker, which formally opened the giant data storage center in suburban Warren, Mich., on Monday, said the changes are examples of how it is moving faster to cut costs and serve its customers better by bringing more computer technology inside the company.
In the past, GM's regional operations tracked problems by themselves, sometimes without communicating with other regions, even though many of its cars are now sold worldwide. Engineers in one region would check a problem part, but it wasn't studied worldwide, at least not at the early stages.
Now, with new software developed by GM's so-called innovation centers and the data storage, problems are spotted quickly when they crop up across the globe, and they're assigned to the right engineer who can work with parts makers to fix the problem faster, said Randy Mott, the company's chief information officer.
Big retailers back safety accord in Bangladesh
NEW YORK (AP) — Some of the world's largest retailers have agreed to a first-of-its-kind pact to improve safety at some of Bangladesh's garment factories following a building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers in the country last month.
The move comes just days shy of a deadline imposed by workers' rights groups that said they would hold street protests and otherwise increase pressure on clothing brands that did not sign the agreement by Wednesday.
H&M, a trendy Swedish chain that's the largest clothing buyer in Bangladesh, said that it would sign a five-year, legally binding factory safety contract. Within hours, C&A of the Netherlands, British retailers Tesco and Primark, and Spain's Inditex, owner of the Zara chain, followed.
The agreement requires that the companies conduct independent safety inspections, make their reports on factory conditions public and cover the costs for needed repairs.
Bloomberg exec apologizes amid new report of leaks
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Financial data and news service Bloomberg LP moved to repair damage to its reputation Monday as a published report said that more than 10,000 of its clients' private messages containing sensitive pricing data had been leaked online.
The report came the same day Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler apologized for the news service's practice of allowing its journalists to access data about how clients used the company's financial data services.
Reporters have had access to the data, Winkler said, since the 1990s but it was revoked last month after investment bank Goldman Sachs complained.
Bloomberg's data services provide financial-market information and news, an instant messaging program and trading platforms to users. The services, which are mainly accessed by way of the company's proprietary computer terminals, are widely used in the financial industry and beyond. More than 315,000 clients pay roughly $20,000 per year for the right to use them.
The mishaps involving Bloomberg's handling of what traders had thought was private information were seen as damaging but not insurmountable for the news juggernaut founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 1981.
High-tech pushes for more in immigration bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — High-tech companies looking to bring more skilled workers to the U.S. are pushing for more concessions in an immigration bill pending in the Senate. Labor unions say Silicon Valley has already gotten enough in the legislation, and that further changes risk chipping away at protections for U.S. workers.
The clash is set to play out in a Capitol Hill hearing room this week as the Senate Judiciary Committee resumes consideration of amendments to sweeping legislation remaking the nation's immigration system.
At issue are the highly sought-after H-1B visas that allow companies like Google and Microsoft to bring workers to the U.S. to fill job openings for engineers, computer software experts, and other positions where employers say there's a shortage of U.S. workers. The legislation increases the number of these visas that are available, but also adds in a number of restrictions designed to ensure U.S. workers get a first shot at jobs.
Judge OKs class-action settlement over Skechers
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge approved a $40 million class-action settlement Monday between Skechers USA Inc. and consumers who bought toning shoes after ads made unfounded claims that the footwear would help people lose weight and strengthen muscles.
U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell in Louisville, Ky., approved the deal, which covers more than 520,000 claims. About 1,000 people eligible for coverage by the settlement opted not to take part.
Those with approved claims will be able to get a maximum repayment for their purchase — up to $80 per pair of Shape-Ups; $84 per pair of Resistance Runner shoes; up to $54 per pair of Podded Sole Shoes; and $40 per pair of Tone-Ups.
Russell also awarded $5 million for the attorneys in the case to split. Russell ordered that the money cannot come from the $40 million settlement fund set aside for consumers.