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Stocks Decline on Tech Reports

Business Roundup for Thursday, March 27.

 Toys"R"Us in Times Square
Toys”R”Us in Times Square (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street as declines in technology companies outweigh better-than-expected news on jobless claims and fourth-quarter economic growth. Technology stocks are selling off for a second day.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Western nations are rushing to help Ukraine. The International Monetary Fund is pledging up to $18 billion in loans, and the U.S. House and Senate have voted to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s prime minister is warning residents they are going to feel pain from the necessary financial reforms ahead, and that home energy prices are certain to rise quickly.

UNDATED (AP) — GlaxoSmithKline is recalling the weight loss drug Alli after receiving reports of unknown pills and tablets in the bottles. The over-the-counter drug comes in a turquoise blue capsule with a dark blue band and the text “60 Orlistat.” However, the British drugmaker says people in seven states have reported finding tablets and capsules of various shapes and colors in the bottles. The states are New York, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft is unveiling Office for the iPad today. The software suite includes programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and works on rival Apple’s hugely popular tablet computer. Office for the iPad corrects layout problems that users experienced when accessing files they had saved on Microsoft’s cloud storage platform, OneDrive. The app has touch-enabled features that allow users to drag photos around Word documents and grab elements like pie charts in Excel.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has approved, by a voice vote, President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Small Business Administration. Maria Contreras-Sweet immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was five years old. She helped found a private equity firm that provided money to small California businesses and later helped start ProAmerica Bank, which helped small and medium-sized businesses. She also was secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy improved at a slightly better pace than previously estimated at the end of last year. The Commerce Department now says the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent from October to December, up from last month’s estimate of 2.4 percent. That’s because consumer spending rose at an annual rate of 3.3 percent — its best quarterly pace since 2010. Growth in the overall economy was still slower than the previous quarter’s 4.1 percent pace.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest level since late November. The Labor Department says applications dropped by 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 311,000. The less volatile four-week average was down 9,500 to 317,750.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average rates on fixed mortgages are higher this week following comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen suggesting that the Fed could start raising short-term interest rates by the middle of next year. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan has increased to 4.40 percent from 4.32 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage rose to 3.42 percent from 3.32 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Figures from a trade group today point to slow real estate sales over the next few months. The National Association of Realtors says the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the eighth-straight month in February. The group says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dropped 0.8 percent to 93.9. The index has fallen 10.5 percent over the past 12 months. The realtors also predict sales will slip to 5 million this year from 5.1 million in 2013.

WAYNE, N.J. (AP) — Toys R Us plans to streamline its operations and stabilize its results as it reported a fourth-quarter loss, hurt by tough competition during the crucial holiday season and its own missteps with pricing and inventory. The Wayne-based privately held company endured a harsh holiday season. Revenue from U.S. stores open at least a year, a key retail metric, tumbled 4.1 percent domestically.

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed today while European exchanges slipped in early trading as investors waiting to see if weak Chinese economic data might prompt new economic stimulus also weighed a sell-off on Wall Street. Benchmark crude oil slipped but remained above $100 a barrel. The dollar gained against the yen and the euro.

WASHINGTON — Investors will be focused on the government’s weekly jobless claims report today. They’ll also get the revised fourth-quarter gross domestic product estimate. On the housing side, Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates and the National Association of Realtors will release February’s pending home sales index. Fashion retailer H&M will also report quarterly earnings.

TOKYO (AP) — ANA is ordering 70 aircraft with a list price of 1.7 trillion yen ($17 billion) from Boeing Co. and Airbus, in the largest order in the Japanese carrier’s history. Today’s orders underline ANA’s ambition to become one of the world’s leading airlines as well as Japan’s tourism drive leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The country is aiming to boost overseas visitors to 20 million a year.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The global launch of Samsung’s latest smartphone has been upstaged by South Korean mobile network companies. SK Telecom, South Korea’s largest mobile carrier, said it will start selling the Galaxy S5 on Thursday, two weeks before the scheduled sales launch on April 11. Samsung said in a statement that it is “very puzzled” by SK Telecom’s decision and is deciding how to respond. It said its schedule of overseas launches remains unchanged.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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