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March 6, 2013 at 11:40 AM   |   0 comments

Dow higher after historic close

NEW YORK, March 6 (UPI) -- The Dow Jones industrial average rose from an all-time record close Wednesday morning with investors wondering how long can a winning run last.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 14,253.77 points Tuesday, eclipsing its previous closing peak of 14,164.53, which was set in October 2007.

"The market has momentum. I think we go higher until you have an event that suggests things aren't as rosy as people think," said Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist at asset managing firm BlackRock Inc.

Among the doubts was confidence, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"There is this new found courage," said Erik Davidson, deputy chief investment officer of Wells Fargo Private Bank. The economy "is a lot less worse than people had feared," he said.

On Wednesday, payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. said 198,000 jobs were added to the private sector in February, about 28,000 more than economist had predicted. The gains were the smallest of the past four months, however.

In late morning trading Wednesday, the DJIA added 26.97 points, or 0.19 percent, to 14,280.74. The Standard and Poor's 500 index added 0.65 points or 0.04 percent to 1,540.44. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.85 points or 0.03 percent to 3,223.28.

The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 7/32 to yield 1.924 percent.

Against the dollar the euro was lower at $1.3005 from Tuesday's $1.3051. Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 93.66 yen from 93.29 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.13 percent on a gain of 248.82 points, to 11,932.27.


ADP says private sector gains 198,000 jobs

ROSELAND, N.J., March 6 (UPI) -- Payroll firm Automatic Data Processing said the U.S. economy added 198,000 non-farm private sector jobs in February, beating expectations by 28,000.

Economists had expected 170,000 jobs would be added to the private sector in the month. In addition, the firm revised its December increase from 192,000 to 215,000, a gain of 23,000.

From November through February, the private sector has added 898,000 jobs, an average of 224,500 per month.

ADP said firms with under 50 employees in February added 77,000 jobs, while medium sized firms added 65,000.

Firms with 500 to 999 employees added 57,000 jobs in February, a jump of 50,000 above January's gain for large firms.

Most of the jobs gained were in the service sector, said ADP President and Chief Executive Officer Carlos Rodriguez.

ADP said the construction sector added 21,000 jobs in the month. Manufacturing firms added 9,000. Trade, transportation and utilities as a group added 45,000 jobs, while financial services added another 7,000 and professional business services jobs increased by 35,000.

In a separate breakdown, goods producing jobs rose by 34,000, most of that coming from the construction industry. Service oriented jobs increased by 164,000.


EU fines Microsoft $731 million

BRUSSELS, March 6 (UPI) -- Antitrust authorities in Europe announced a $731 million fine against Microsoft Wednesday for failing to extend its browser choices.

The European Commission's antitrust division in 2009 ordered Microsoft to extend browser choices to customers who had been buying operating systems that had been providing access exclusively to Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

In 2009, Microsoft signed the deal agreeing to offer more browser options on future operating systems. CNet reported.

"In 2009, we closed our investigation about a suspected abuse of dominant position by Microsoft due to the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows by accepting commitments offered by the company," said the European Union's antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

"Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems. Of course, such decisions require strict compliance. A failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly," he said.

Microsoft said its failure to comply with the directive for more than a year was a "technical oversight,."

On Wednesday, a company spokesperson in Brussels said the software giant takes "full responsibility for the technical error."

"We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake -- or anything similar --- in the future," the spokesperson said.

CNet said Microsoft failed to extend browser choices on new Windows 7 operating systems from February 2011 through July 2012. Microsoft said 28 million users were affected by the oversight, a figure the European Commission allowed was closer to 15 million.

The number is critical, because the fine could have gone as high as 10 percent of Microsoft's global sales, which would amounted to a fine of $7.4 billion.

Analysts did not expect the commission would levy a fine of that size, but they expected a high enough number to show other companies that it meant business when it came to antitrust issues.


Russia extends Magnitsky drama

MOSCOW, March 6 (UPI) -- Russian officials said they would bring fresh fraud charges against investor William Browder in what has become an escalating international feud.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Russia is poised to try a tax evasion case against Browder's former attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison in 2009.

The rare posthumous proceedings are politically charged. A Russian human rights commission said in 2011 that Magnitsky died while being denied medical treatment after he was beaten in prison. Russian courts acquitted prison personnel charged in the case.

In direct retaliation, the U.S. government enacted the so-called "Magnitsky Act," in 2012, which freezes the assets of Russian officials involved in the case, including officials implicated in allegations of a $230 million fraud Magnitsky and Browder had said had been orchestrated by senior police officials.

The Russian government, in response, stopped adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens.

Browder's investment fund on Tuesday called the new charges "spurious and without any foundation."

Browder had been one of the largest individual foreign investors in Russia. The new allegations involve 131 million shares of natural gas giant Gazprom that he purchased from 1999-2004.

The purchases were permitted by Russian regulators at the time, Browder's fund said. Authorities in Russia now say he didn't have permission to buy domestically traded stock, which had a lower price than shares made available to foreigners.

The damages to the government are valued at $97.5 million, senior Interior Ministry official Mikhail Alexandrov said at a news conference.

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