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March 14, 2013 at 6:28 PM   |   Comments

S&P within sight of a record close

NEW YORK, March 14 (UPI) -- U.S. markets rose Thursday, pushing the Dow further into new territory and the Standard & Poor's index close to its all-time record close.

The Dow Jones industrial average has closed higher for 10 consecutive days, a streak unseen in at least 16 years. The past eight of those days have ended with closing record highs for the index.

Now the broader S&P 500 index is within reach of an all-time record, which is 1,565.15.

Pushed by a Labor Department report that first-time unemployment claims fell last week to 332,000, their second-lowest level in more than five years, the S&P index added 8.71 points or 0.56 percent to 1,563.23 Thursday.

At the close, the DJIA was 83.86 points higher, up 0.58 percent, to 14,539.14.

The Nasdaq composite closed with a gain of 13.81 points, or 0.43 percent, to 3,258.93.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,040 stocks advanced and 1,007 declined on a volume of 3.4 billion shares traded.

The 10-year U.S. treasury bonds fell 3/32 to yield 2.034 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.3005 from Wednesday's $1.2961. Against the yen, the dollar was even at 96.11 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 141.53 points, 1.16 percent, to 12,381.19.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 0.74 percent, 47.91 points, to 6,529.41.


Fed OKs capital plans at 14 banks

WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve said Thursday it has approved capital plans of 14 U.S. financial institutions under financial reform legislation enacted in 2010.

The Fed said the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review -- mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 -- was intended to determine whether the largest bank holding companies' capital levels are strong enough to ensure banking organizations are able to lend to households and businesses "and to continue to meet their financial obligations, even in times of economic difficulty."

The review includes an evaluation of capital planning processes and capital adequacy, as well as proposed capital actions such as dividend payments and share buybacks and issuances, the Fed said in a news release.

In addition to the 14 institutions whose proposals were approved, two institutions received conditional approval and the Fed objected to the plans of two firms.

The Fed said it did not object to capital plans for American Express Co.; Bank of America Corp.; The Bank of New York Mellon Corp.; Capital One Financial Corp.; Citigroup Inc.; Fifth Third Bancorp; KeyCorp; Morgan Stanley; The PNC Financial Services Group Inc.; Regions Financial Corp.; State Street Corp.; SunTrust Banks Inc.; U.S. Bancorp; and Wells Fargo & Co.

It did not object to the capital plans for The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JP Morgan Chase & Co. but required the two institutions to submit new capital plans by the end of the third quarter "to address weaknesses in their capital planning processes."

The Fed objected to the capital plans of Ally Financial Inc. and BB&T Corp.

The Fed said March 7 -- after the third round of so-called stress tests mandated by Dodd-Frank -- the largest 18 U.S. banks have shown improved resilience as they distance themselves from the 2008 financial crisis.

The Fed said at the time "the nation's largest bank holding companies have continued to improve their ability to withstand an extremely adverse hypothetical economic scenario and are collectively in a much stronger capital position than before the financial crisis."


Sun Belt cities growing again

WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- Sun Belt cities hit hard by the bust in the U.S. housing market are beginning to show signs of a revival, a Brookings Institute demographer said.

In an analysis of recently released Census Bureau data, demographer William Frey found that Phoenix, Las Vegas and some hot spots in Florida led the country in population growth last year, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The data, covering July 2011 to July 2012, showed Phoenix grew by 37,025 residents over the course of the year, about 10 times its growth for the previous year.

Las Vegas grew by 11,827 residents.

Growth was also reported in Miami, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta.

"We're seeing a real glimmer for parts of the Sun Belt that were pretty much dead in the water during the recession," Frey said.

San Francisco, Denver and Seattle also experienced net positive domestic migration in the year.

New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland and Youngstown in Ohio, and Buffalo and Syracuse in New York all saw declines, however.

The net domestic migration loss from New York was 127,842, a 28 percent increase from the previous year.

In Chicago, the net loss was 54,274, slightly less than 2011. In Los Angeles, the net outflow of domestic migration came to 38,532, the newspaper said.


For one at UBS, a $26M payday

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 14 (UPI) -- Swiss bank UBS says it paid the new head of its investment unit $26 million to make up for the deal he left behind at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The package, which amounts to a "golden handshake" for executive Andrea Orcel dwarfs, the $9.3 million welcoming package the bank shelled out for Sergio Ermotti, the bank's chief executive officer, The New York Times reported Thursday.

"In line with market practice, he received awards as a replacement for deferred compensation and benefits forfeited by his previous employer as a result of his joining UBS," the bank said in its annual report, released Thursday.

The revelation comes just two weeks after Swiss voters approved a referendum that gives company shareholders a vote on payment packages for executives and board directors.

Orcel, who worked at Merrill Lynch for 20 years, will take over a UBS unit that incurred a $2.8 billion loss in 2012, the Times said.

The annual report said the UBS bonus pool for 2012 dropped 7 percent to $2.6 billion. It also said it had retrieved $63.1 million from employees in a pay retraction that occurred as a result of the London inter-bank offered rate manipulation scandal, for which UBS paid regulators $450 million.

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