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Friday
Apr082011

Stocks Down at Friday's Close; Oil Prices Continue to Rise

John Foxx | Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Stocks were unsteady Friday as investors continued to worry about the rising costs of oil.

The Dow closed down 29 points, the Nasdaq lost 16 and the S&P gave up five points at the end of the week's trading.

Oil prices jumped to $112 a barrel Friday.  Some analysts say it is likely gas could reach $4 a gallon by summer at the current rate of increases.  A couple private surveys put the current national average at $3.75.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Prolonged Shutdown Could Impact Housing Market

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Housing Authority will stop accepting new loans in case of a government shutdown.  According to Inside Mortgage Finance, 19 percent of all home mortgages originated last year were FHA loans, so a shutdown of more than a few days could have affect the already suffering housing market.  Smaller lenders will likely be more affected.
 
Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citibank, three of the five largest mortgage services in the country say that a shutdown will not have a significant impact on their operations.  A spokesperson for Bank of America said that the bank will, “continue originating and closing FHA and VA mortgages in the event of a short term shutdown.”  A Wells Fargo spokesperson said that they don’t expect the shutdown will be an issue in most cases.  Similarly Citibank said in a statement, “we do not anticipate changes to our mortgage business in case of a government shutdown.”
 
PHH mortgage, a significantly smaller mortgage service, expressed a bit more concern. The bank said in a statement that they will, “continue registering and closing government loans, to the extent that required documentation and approvals can be obtained” but added that they “would counsel borrowers that potential delays may be caused by a shutdown.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Shoe Designer Louboutin: Yves Saint Laurent Stole Red-Sole Design

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Yves Saint Laurent is being sued for trademark infringement for selling shoes that have red outer soles, a style French shoe designer Charles Louboutin insists is his creation.

Louboutin filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. He is seeking a court injunction against the sale of the supposed copycat shoes in the U.S. and damages of at least $1 million.

"Mr. Louboutin is the first designer to develop the idea of having red soles on women's shoes," the lawsuit states. Yves Saint Laurent America spokeswoman Bridget Helene said the company will not be commenting.

The suit alleges that YSL copied Louboutin's trademarked red outer sole, which Louboutin registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1992. But it's unclear whether the trademark covers all red-soled shoes. The offending YSL red suede pumps in its spring 2011 collection does not have a glazed look like those of the Louboutin brand. It also carries shoes that have purple, navy and green soles.

Louboutin says it also objects the YSL America selling red-sole shoes under the brand names Tribute, Palais and Woodstock. He stopped short of calling them cheap knockoffs, but noted those shoes are significantly cheaper.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

US Chamber of Commerce President on Shutdown: 'Pain in the Neck'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- What does the business community think of a possible federal government shutdown?

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue said Friday it would be a “pain in the neck” but only severely effect businesses and the economy if it were to last “several weeks.”

“I’ve been telling people, let’s do this. Push it right up to the line, do whatever you have to do, but let’s not shut down the government,” Donohue told reporters at a breakfast meeting in Washington.

“It’s happened many, many times, but we’ve got a million things on our plate all around the world. It would be helpful not to do it,” he said. “If it happens and it’s in a short period of time, it’s a little bit of a mental exercise and we go out and do it and get on with it.”

Donohue, who declined to assign blame for the budget gridlock, said he believes the looming debate over the debt limit and long-term entitlement spending has more serious implications for the business community and economy as a whole.

The Obama administration has warned of dire consequences unless the $14.3 trillion ceiling is raised before the debt limit is reached, likely sometime before May 31.  But Congressional Republicans have threatened to block an increase unless the administration commits to curtailing entitlement spending.

The Chamber’s top lobbyist, Bruce Josten, said the he expects Republican lawmakers will ultimately agree to raise the debt limit, but not without concessions from the administration.

Donohue described relations between the business community and the White House as cordial, saying he appreciates steps President Obama has taken to “change his song.” But he suggested that on matters of substance, little has changed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Toyota to Resume Vehicle Production at All Plants in Japan

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- After having to shut down most of its operations in Japan due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Toyota announced Friday that it will begin producing vehicles again at all of its Japanese plants on April 18.

The Japanese automaker said it will build cars through April 27, after which production facilities will go on their annual spring holiday break until May 10.  The plants will operate at about half capacity leading up to the break, and post-holiday production will be determined after the automaker assesses its parts supply.

Toyota was forced to stop manufacturing vehicles in Japan after the quake struck.  Most recently, the automaker had resumed producing repair or replacement parts in the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Meat Institute Urges Lawmakers to Deem Inspectors 'Essential'

Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/ Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The American Meat Institute sent a letter to the Obama administration Thursday, urging officials to deem meat and poultry inspectors as "essential personnel," allowing them to continue working should the government shut down.

According to the institute, close to 8,000 inspectors oversee 6,200 plants across the U.S., ensuring that products are "safe, wholesome and properly labeled and that livestock are treated humanely."  Should they be classified as "non-essential," plants will have to cease operations.

Although a work stoppage seems unlikely, being that meat inspectors were deemed "essential" in past shutdowns, the institute said it has yet to receive assurance from the government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Tax Tip: File Returns, Check Refunds on Your Smart Phone

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New for people filing their taxes this year: a host of smartphone applications, including apps that allow you to submit your returns and check up on your refunds.

"If you're an iPhone user or have an Android phone, you can actually file your taxes from your phone," says Mary Beth Franklin of Kiplingers Personal Finance magazine.  She says Turbo Tax has an app called Snap Tax that can do just that.

"You take your W2 form that you receive from your employer that lists your annual earnings and your deductions; you take a picture of it with the camera on your phone; you answer a few questions and boom you file your taxes," Franklin says.

Filers interested in using Snap Tax can download it for $14.95.

But some apps are free, including one from the Internal Revenue Service called IRS2Go.  The IRS app can be found at the agency's website, IRS.gov.  It works with both iPhones and Android phones and features news from the IRS and more.

"[Users] can download this phone app and one of the features of IRS2Go app is checking on the status of your refund as well," says Jodie Reynolds of the IRS.

Some tax prep firms also have their own free apps.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Submit Your Ideas, Make Some Cash

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Have you ever had what you thought was a simple, money making idea and wondered if anyone would be interested?

Well, guess what?  "Companies are looking for those ideas," says Steven Key, author of One Simple Idea.

And you don't have to reinvent the wheel to pocket some cash.  Key says you can make a profit by simply coming "up with small improvements on existing ideas."

For example, he explains, "If you got a new kitchen gadget, that's perfect."  You make your pitch "and if they like it, they take it to market for me, they take all the risk, and I get the royalty check every time they sell one."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

Global Food Prices Falling from Record Highs in Recent Months

Jupiterimages/Pixland(NEW YORK) -- Global food prices fell for the first time in eight months, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. 

While the index averaged 37 percent above prices in March of last year, the March 2011 index averaged 230 points -- down 2.9 percent from February's peak prices.

The FAO says oil (down 7 percent after nine months of increases) and sugar (down 10 percent from January and February) prices are leading the decline with cereal following behind.  On the other hand, FAO says, dairy and meat prices were up, but only slightly in the case of meat.

The FAO attributes the dropping prices to "sluggish import demand" with "economic uncertainties" to go with the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East as well as Japan's efforts to recover from an earthquake and tsunami.

"The decrease in the overall index this month brings some welcome respite from the steady increases seen over the last eight months," said David Hallam, Director of FAO's Trade and Market Division.  He added, "But it would be premature to conclude that this is a reversal of the upward trend."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Apr072011

Oreck Must Pay FTC $750K, Stop Health Claims  

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Oreck Corporation claimed its Halo vacuum and ProShield Plus air cleaner could prevent illness.  Now, the Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday that the company has agreed to stop making these "allegedly false and unproven claims" and will pay the FTC $750,000.

Oreck began advertising the two appliances together during the 2009 holiday season, calling them the "Oreck Flu Fighters," according to Consumer Reports.  The ads claimed that using both the $400 air cleaner and the $600 vacuum together would "help reduce the flu on virtually any surface and in the air in your home."

It was not long after Oreck introduced the pair of appliances that Dyson challenged their health claims, filing complaints with the National Advertising Division (NAD), a branch of the Better Business Bureau.  NAD referred the case to the FTC when Oreck rejected the agency's review process.

Consumer Reports notes that both products have been tested at its in-house laboratory.  The Halo UVX was tested "the same way we test all models," the consumer buyer's guide said.  They said that a vacuum "need not kill pest as long as it removes them from the home."  However, the ProShield Plus, which was tested along with other air purifiers on the market, did not rate well.

Oreck no longer claims to kill germs on its website, Consumer Reports says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio