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March 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM
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Stock rally begins to unwind

NEW YORK, March 15 (UPI) -- U.S. markets slipped Friday morning after the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the consumer price index ticked higher in February.

The annual inflation rate rose to 2 percent after resting at 1.9 percent for three consecutive months.

Markets are poised for a downturn, anyway. The Dow Jones industrial average has closed higher for 10 consecutive days, the longest winning streak in at least 16 years.

In late morning trading Friday, the DJIA shed 29.23 points or 0.2 percent to 14,509.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 1.89 points or 0.12 percent to 1,561.34.

The Nasdaq composite gave up 5.82 points or 0.18 percent to 3,253.11.

The 10-year U.S. treasury bonds rose 9/32 to yield 2.002 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.3079 from Thursday's $1.3005. Against the yen, the dollar was lower at 95.24 yen from 96.11 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gained 179.76 points, 1.45 percent, to 12,560.95.

Weather hints at a better U.S. crop season

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., March 15 (UPI) -- U.S. weather patterns have indicated a more promising growing season in the Midwest and Northeast this year than in 2012, AccuWeather meteorologists said.

"The weather pattern over much of the nation this March is vastly different than last March and will translate to a move favorable environment during the growing season ... in most areas," senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski wrote.

Sosnowski said improvements would be especially pronounced in the grain-growing areas of the Midwest and fruit-growing areas of the Northeast.

In an AccuWeather breakdown of the spring forecast, Sosnowski wrote there would be exceptions to a national trend of increased moisture. Dry weather could still be a problem for farmers in California, Florida and Rocky Mountain states, the report said.

"Less-than-average snowfall this winter in the central and southern Rockies and normal to abnormal dryness this summer could result in reduced water levels on the Colorado River," said Jim Andrews, also a senior meteorologist.

A shortage of snow could also affect California this year.

"A lack of big snowstorms over the Sierra Nevada and other ranges in the West could mean water-resource limitations in California," meteorologist Ken Clark said

What may have been dismal weather for some people in the winter months, could translate to a better crop season for many farmers because snowstorms raised water levels in some areas.

"Storms in recent months have delivered near-normal snowfall from major crop-growing areas of the lower Plains through the Midwest and in parts of the Northwest," Sosnowski wrote.

China to set up state-owned railway corp.

BEIJING, March 15 (UPI) -- The Chinese government says it will set up a state-owned railway corporation with registered capital of 1.04 trillion yuan ($165.73 billion).

The new entity, to be called the China Railway Corp., supervised by the Ministry of Transport, will be wholly state-owned and will perform the business functions of the Ministry of Railways, which is to be dismantled under the government's restructuring effort.

The Xinhua News Agency said a date for the establishment of new corporation was not disclosed.

The report said the railways ministry's assets, liabilities and personnel will be transferred to the new corporation.

The railway ministry's debt-to-asset ratio had climbed to 61.81 percent at the end of September last year.

The report said the ministry's huge debts were the result of the country's railway construction boom in recent years.

Many of China's public works projects have been mired in corruption and the country's top leadership has been cracking down on the problem.

China's high-speed rail system, highly praised around the world, has not come cheap. Some past reports have estimated the cost was running into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

China says 98,000 kilometers (60,894 miles) of rail lines, including 9,356 kilometers (5,813 miles) of high-speed rail lines, were in operation at the end of last year.

Bangladesh extends central bank gov's term

DHAKA, Bangladesh, March 15 (UPI) -- The government of Bangladesh extended the tenure of central bank Gov. Atiur Rahman by another three years, a senior official said.

"The government has given approval to the contractual appointment of the governor until he reaches the age limit for retirement at 65," said Shaikh Mohammed Wahid-uz-Zaman, principal secretary to the prime minister, praising Rahman's performance and competence.

The current term of Rahman, who has been at the helm of the Bangladesh Bank since 2009, ends April 30, the Bangladesh Daily Star reported.

Rahman is the 10th governor of the central bank.

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