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July 17, 2012 at 8:40 PM   |   0 comments

Stocks close higher Tuesday

NEW YORK, July 17 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned of increasing economic risks.

In a semi-annual report presented to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in Washington, Bernanke said, "risks to economic growth have increased."

The Labor Department said consumer prices were unchanged May to June, a sign the recovery has stalled. The National Association of Home Builders, however, said builder confidence had risen in July to its highest level in nearly a decade.

Stocks reversed early losses in New York, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing with a gain of 78.33 points, 0.62 percent, at 12,805.54. The Nasdaq composite added 13.10 points or 0.45 percent to 2,910.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 10.03 points or 0.45 percent to 1,363.73.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,044 stocks advanced and 988 declined on a volume of 3.4 billion shares traded.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 10/32 to yield 1.508 percent.

The euro rose to $1.229 against the U.S. dollar from Monday's $1.2272. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 79.08 from Monday's 78.86.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.35 percent, 30.88, to 8,755.

In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 0.59 percent, 33.34, to 5,629.09.


Bernanke keeps remarks on stimulus generic

WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke left out specifics Tuesday but said the central bank was prepared to take further steps to stimulate the economy.

The remarks on extra stimulus were brief and generic, but turned a slump in equity markets around, as stocks on three major Wall Street indexes turned from declines to advances in late-morning trading.

Bernanke noted the economic recovery has slowed to a crawl since early in the year.

"The U.S. economy has continued to recover, but economic activity appears to have decelerated somewhat during the first half of this year," he said to members of the Senate Banking Committee in remarks prepared for a semi-annual report.

The economy had added jobs at a rate of 200,000 per month in the later part of 2011 and early in the year, but that "shrank to 75,000 per month during the second quarter," he said.

Bernanke had been expected to tell lawmakers the Fed was poised to embrace new stimulus measures without saying when, economists said in advance of the chairman's testimony.

But the chairman only went as far as to say, "Reflecting its concerns about the slow pace of progress in reducing unemployment and the downside risks to the economic outlook, the [Fed's] Open Market Committee made clear at its June meeting that it is prepared to take further action as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery."

Minutes of the Fed's June meeting, released last week, indicated "a few" of the 12 officials who vote on Fed policy thought quantitative easing and other stimulus measures "likely would be necessary to promote satisfactory growth." Several others said they would consider such steps only if economic conditions deteriorated, the minutes indicated.

The Fed announced after its June 19-20 meeting it would continue until year's end an effort to reduce business and consumer borrowing costs by rearranging its portfolio.


Sony confirms upcoming tablet computer

TOKYO, July 17 (UPI) -- Sony says it will introduce a tablet computer by the end of the year to join its current Tablet P and Tablet S models launched last year, CIO Asia reported.

Sony representatives did not discuss details of the unit or the exact timing of the release but one company representative told Britain's PC the new device would be released before Christmas.

Sony's Tablet S and Tablet P models run Google's Android operating system, but it is unclear whether the upcoming tablet will stay with that OS or offer something different such as Windows 8, CIO Asia said.

Sony could choose to offer different models of the new tablet for both Windows 8 and the next version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Windows 8 will launch by the end of October and almost all vendors are looking to offer a tablet for Microsoft's OS.

Sony was not alone in announcing tablet plans, as HTC told PC Advisor it would be launching a follow-up to its Flyer tablet in Britain.


Peregrine CEO says he was pushed to cheat

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa, July 17 (UPI) -- The head of Peregrine Financial Services Inc. said U.S. regulators hounded him to the point that he had to go out of business or break the law.

"I have to say I don't feel bad about deceiving the regulators. They made the decision to be my enemy," said Chief Executive Officer Russell Wasendorf Sr., who has been charged with embezzling $215 million in client funds.

He wrote notes to his son and wife and left a signed statement before a failed recent suicide attempt.

The statement says money Wasendorf Sr. allegedly embezzled from the company went to pay for a new company headquarters in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and to cover regulatory fees and fines, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

One note asks his son, Russell Wasendorf Jr., to forgive him, saying the only mistake his son made was to trust his father.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association have charged Wasendorf with embezzling $215 million from the company.

Wasendorf's statement says he began misappropriating client funds in 1993 after the CFTC conducted six on-site audits of the company over a five-month period.

Eventually, the regulator found a "technical violation," which began a snowball effect, as it increased the company's capital requirements, the statement says.

"Most of the misappropriated funds went to maintain the increasing levels of regulatory capital to keep [the company] in business and to pay business [losses]," the statement says.

In a court appearance last week, Wasendorf did not enter a plea, the newspaper reported.

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