Business Highlights

0

___

Barra apologizes for deaths tied to recalled cars

DETROIT (AP) — The top executive of General Motors apologized for deaths linked to the delayed recall of 1.6 million small cars, saying the company took too long to tell owners to bring the cars in for repairs.

Faced with a crisis just months into the job, CEO Mary Barra has put herself front and centre in the company’s efforts to take responsibility for mishandling a defect with ignition switches in small cars, and to ward off a threat to its sales and reputation. She named a new head of global safety, one day after telling employees that GM is pushing to resolve safety issues more quickly.

___

Stocks gain after reports on housing, Ukraine

NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging news on the economy gave the stock market a boost on Tuesday.

Stocks also rose on expectations that the conflict between Russia and the West wouldn’t escalate further. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is preparing to complete the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, but he said Tuesday that he won’t take over other areas of Ukraine.

The stock market is recovering this week after logging its biggest weekly drop in almost two months. The S&P 500 has gained 1.7 per cent this week after dropping almost 2 per cent last week on concerns about slowing growth in China and tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

___

What if the missing Malaysia plane is never found?

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The plane must be somewhere. But the same can be said for Amelia Earhart’s.

Ten days after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared with 239 people aboard, an exhaustive international search has produced no sign of the Boeing 777, raising an unsettling question: What if the airplane is never found?

Such an outcome, while considered unlikely by many experts, would certainly torment the families of those missing. It would also flummox the airline industry, which will struggle to learn lessons from the incident if it doesn’t know what happened.

While rare nowadays, history is not short of such mysteries — from the most famous of all, American aviator Earhart, to planes and ships disappearing in the so-called Bermuda Triangle.

___

US home construction fell for a 3rd month in Feb.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home construction fell for a third month in February, but in a hopeful sign, applications for building permits rose to their highest level in four months.

Builders started work on 907,000 homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in February, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was down a slight 0.2 per cent from January, when construction had fallen 11.2 per cent. The declines have been blamed in large part on severe winter weather in much of the country.

Applications for permits to build homes, considered a gauge of future activity, rose a solid 7.7 per cent in February to 1.02 million units. Many analysts expect housing sales and construction to show further gains this year, helped by a stronger economy.

___

Wal-Mart takes aim at $2B used video game market

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart plans to start buying used video games from shoppers at stores in a move that goes after the bread-and-butter business of GameStop.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to expand its current online trade-in program by allowing customers to trade their used video games at 3,100 Wal-Mart stores in exchange for credit toward the purchase of other items.

The world’s largest retailer is taking aim at the $2 billion used video-game market. It’s a business that’s dominated by GameStop Corp., the world’s biggest dedicated seller of video games with the largest and most-established video game trade-in program.

___

US consumer prices tick up just 0.1 per cent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cheaper energy kept U.S. consumer prices in check last month, despite a big rise in the cost of food, the latest sign that inflation is tame.

The consumer price index rose 0.1 per cent in February, matching January’s increase, the Labor Department said Tuesday. In the past 12 months, prices have risen just 1.1 per cent, down from 1.6 per cent in January and the smallest yearly gain in five months.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices rose 0.1 per cent last month and 1.6 per cent in the past year.

___

Concerns about cancer centres under health law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of America’s best cancer hospitals are off-limits to many of the people now signing up for coverage under the nation’s new health care program.

Doctors and administrators say they’re concerned. So are some state insurance regulators.

An Associated Press survey found examples coast to coast. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is excluded by five out of eight insurers in Washington’s insurance exchange. MD Anderson Cancer Center says it’s in less than half of the plans in the Houston area. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is included by two of nine insurers in New York City and has out-of-network agreements with two more.

___

US CEOs’ optimism on economy reaches 2-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. chief executives have grown more optimistic about economic growth this year, and more of them plan to boost spending and hiring within the next six months.

The Business Roundtable said Tuesday that its CEO outlook index rose to 92.1 in the first quarter of this year, the highest level in two years. The index measures chief executives’ expectations for sales, investment spending and hiring.

The biggest improvement occurred in investment spending. Nearly half the CEOs surveyed said they plan to invest more in the next six months, up from 39 per cent last quarter. Such spending is typically followed by more hiring as companies expand.

The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executives of the 200 largest U.S. companies.

___

Greece reaches long-delayed deal on bailout loans

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece concluded seven months of tortuous negotiations with its international debt inspectors Tuesday, reaching a deal that will allow it to access a long-delayed rescue loan installment.

The deal does not require Greece to impose any new austerity policies, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras insisted, as he outlined a series of relief measures for the most needy.

Greece has depended on its bailout from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund since mid-2010. Payment of the rescue loans depend on the country meeting criteria in spending cuts, tax increases and reforms. Greece’s progress in meeting the targets is reviewed regularly by the debt inspectors, collectively known as the ‘troika’.

___

By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average climbed 89 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 16,336. The Nasdaq composite climbed 53 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 4,333. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 13 points, or 0.7 per cent, to close at 1,872 Tuesday.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery gained $1.62 to $99.70 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was oil’s biggest gain since March 3.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained 55 cents to $106.79.

Wholesale gasoline inched up 2 cents to $2.90 a gallon.

Heating oil gained 2 cents to $2.92 a gallon.

Natural gas fell 8 cents to $4.46 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *