Business Highlights


Bloodless bank heist impressed cybercrime experts

NEW YORK (AP) — A bloodless bank heist that netted more than $45 million has left even cybercrime experts impressed by the technical sophistication, if not the virtue, of the con artists who pulled off a remarkable internationally organized attack.

On the creative side of the heist, a small team of highly skilled hackers penetrated bank systems, erased withdrawal limits on prepaid debit cards and stole account numbers. On the crude end, criminals used hand-held devices to change the information on the magnetic strips of old hotel key cards, used credit cards and depleted debit cards.

Seven people were arrested in the U.S., accused of operating the New York cell of what prosecutors said was a network that carried out thefts at ATMs in 27 countries from Canada to Russia. Law enforcement agencies from more than a dozen nations were involved in the investigation, led by the Secret Service.


Dollar rises above 100 yen for 1st time in 4 years

TOKYO (AP) — The dollar continued to soar above 100 yen on Friday, driven by aggressive credit-easing aimed at reviving Japan’s sluggish economy and improved U.S. economic figures.

The U.S. dollar broke through the 100-yen barrier on Thursday for the first time since April 2009. The move lifted Japanese stocks to their highest level in more than five years.

By late Friday the dollar was at 101.61 yen.

The weaker yen is a boon to Japan’s major auto and electronics exporters. The government said the yen’s fall signalled that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy mix of increased public spending and aggressive monetary easing, dubbed “Abenomics,” was proving successful. Kick-starting the economy has been Abe’s top priority since he took office late last year.


Icahn, Southeastern challenge Dell takeover plan

One of the biggest critics of Michael Dell’s plan to take the company he founded private has launched a fresh challenge to that $24.4 billion bid and says the slumping PC maker needs new leadership.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has teamed with Dell’s largest independent shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management, to pitch a deal that would let Dell shareholders keep their stake in the company and give them either $12 per share in cash or additional shares.

Icahn and Southeastern say this alternative, which would keep the company publicly traded, gives shareholders a stake in future company gains, according to a May 9 letter sent to Dell’s board.


Woman rescued after 17 days in Bangladesh rubble

SAVAR, Bangladesh (AP) — For 17 days, the seamstress lay trapped in a dark basement pocket beneath thousands of tons of wreckage as temperatures outside climbed into the mid-90s F. She rationed food and water. She banged a pipe to attract attention. She was fast losing hope of ever making it out alive.

In the ruins of the collapsed eight-store garment factory building above her, the frantic rescue operation had long ago ended. It had turned instead into a grim search for the decaying bodies of the more than 1,000 people killed in the world’s worst garment industry disaster.

The miraculous moment came when salvage workers finally heard her banging. They pulled her to safety. She was in shockingly good condition, wearing a violet outfit with a large, bright pink scarf.


April surplus of $113 billion lowers US budget deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government reported a rare surplus of $113 billion for April — the largest in five years and a sign of the nation’s improving finances.

Steady economic growth and higher tax rates have boosted tax revenue in recent months, keeping this year’s annual budget deficit on pace to be the smallest since 2008. A smaller deficit is also likely to give negotiators more time to work out a deal on raising the nation’s borrowing limit.

Through the first seven months of the budget year, the deficit was $488 billion, according to the Treasury. That’s lower than last year’s deficit of $720 billion over the same period.


Nissan profit up 46 per cent on strong sales, weak yen

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan’s fiscal fourth quarter profit jumped 46 per cent on stronger sales and a favourable exchange rate that offset declines in China because of a bitter territorial dispute.

Nissan Motor Co. reported Friday a January-March profit of 110 billion yen ($1.1 billion), up from 75.3 billion yen the same period the previous year. Quarterly sales gained 6 per cent to 2.87 trillion yen.

That rounded out a record vehicle sales year for the Yokohama-based maker of the March compact, Infiniti luxury models and Leaf electric car at 4.9 million vehicles globally, up 1.4 per cent, despite the problems in China where boycotts and anti-Japanese riots broke out last year.


Panasonic reports big loss but forecasts profit

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic Corp. on Friday reported a near-record net loss of 754 billion yen ($7.5 billion) for the fiscal year through March due to restructuring costs and slumping sales, but predicted a return to the black this year as it prunes unprofitable businesses.

The Osaka-based company, which makes Viera TVs and Lumix digital cameras, has been battered by plunging prices, the strong yen, an ailing TV business and intense competition from the likes of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

A good chunk of the net loss came from hefty restructuring expenses, including impairment losses as the company wrote down the value of assets related to its solar, lithium-ion and mobile phone businesses. The company also reduced its global staff over the year from 330,767 to 293,742.


Texas launches criminal probe into plant explosion

WACO, Texas (AP) — Texas law enforcement officials on Friday launched a criminal investigation into the massive fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people last month, after weeks of largely treating the blast as an industrial accident.

The announcement came the same day that a paramedic who helped to evacuate residents the night of the explosion was arrested on a charge of possessing a destructive device, though it is not clear whether the charge is related to the April 17 blast at West Fertilizer Co.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said in a Friday statement that the agency had instructed the Texas Rangers and the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department to conduct a criminal probe into the explosion.


Bloomberg bars reporters from client log-in data

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Financial data and news company Bloomberg LP said Friday that it had corrected a “mistake” in its newsgathering policies and cut off its journalists’ special access to client log-in data on the company’s ubiquitous trading information terminals after Goldman Sachs complained about the matter last month.

A person familiar with the matter said Goldman Sachs became concerned about outside access after a Bloomberg reporter, investigating what she thought was the departure of a Goldman employee, told the securities firm that the employee had not logged into a Bloomberg terminal for a number of weeks.

The person was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.


Yen in focus as G-7 discusses nurturing recovery

AYLESBURY, England (AP) — Financial leaders from the world’s top seven developed economies are gathering in the U.K. to discuss how to shore up the global recovery just as the stimulus measures of one its members, Japan, has caused its currency to take a dramatic slide.

Supporting the global economy and the role of central banks are set to be the key points of this weekend’s discussions among financial ministers and officials from the Group of Seven countries — the U.S., Germany, Japan, the U.K, Italy, France and Canada. The yen and the Bank of Japan’s super-aggressive monetary policy will also likely feature, following the dollar’s breach of the 100 yen mark for the first time in four years.

Over the past few months, the yen has dropped sharply as the new government in Japan tries to bring an end to the country’s two-decade stagnation.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial rose 35.87 points, or 0.2 per cent, to close at 15,118.49. The S&P 500 closed up 7.03 points at 1,633.70, an increase of 0.4 per cent. The Nasdaq composite index was up 27.41 points, or 0.8 per cent, to close at 3,436.58.

Benchmark crude for June delivery slipped 35 cents to close at $96.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, fell 56 cents to $103.91 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $2.86 a gallon. Heating oil lost 3 cents to $2.91 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents to $3.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.