Stocks End Week Lower Ahead of Ukraine Vote
Business Roundup for Friday, March 14.
NEW YORK (AP) – The U.S. stock market is ending lower as investors brace for a critical vote this weekend over the future Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. The region is holding a vote on Sunday, which is widely expected to back splitting off from Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe have warned Russia of consequences if it moves to seize the region. The U.S. and Russia found “no common vision” over the crises after hours of talks on Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell five points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 1,841 Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 43 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,065. The Nasdaq slipped 15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,245. Aeropostale fell $1.47, or 20 percent, to $5.83 after the teen clothing retailer reported a wider loss.
NEW YORK (AP) — Target Corp. is acknowledging it decided not to take immediate action after its security software picked up on suspicious activity that turned out to be a massive cyberattack. Hackers ended up stealing credit card numbers and personal data of millions of Target customers. A Target spokeswoman says the company is “investigating whether, if different judgments had been made, the outcome may have been different.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Castlight Health Inc. have more than doubled in their debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The online health care software company raised $177.6 million in an initial public offering priced at $16 per share. Shares rose as high as $41.95 this morning, and are trading at close to $38 this afternoon. Castlight sells cloud-based software to large companies that enables their workers to search and compare doctors, hospitals and procedures based on cost and the quality of care.
DENVER (AP) — Quiznos has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The toasted sandwich chain says it voluntarily filed to reorganize to implement a restructuring plan aimed at reducing its debt by more than $400 million. Quiznos owns and operates only seven of the nearly 2,100 Quiznos restaurants. The rest are owned operated by franchisees and aren’t part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers have made their final arguments to jurors in the trial of five former employees of Bernard Madoff. Jurors will have to weigh whether the workers were Madoff’s conspirators in his decades-long Ponzi scheme or his dupes. Madoff has said he acted alone in cheating thousands of investors out of nearly $20 billion.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest government price data shows inflation remains tame. The Labor Department says the producer price index dropped 0.1 percent in February. That’s the first decline since November. Businesses have struggled to raise prices amid a tight job market and meager wage growth.
LONDON (AP) — Major European stock markets are heading lower today, with the crisis in Ukraine potentially coming to a head this weekend. Residents in the Crimean Peninsula are expected to vote in a referendum Sunday to break off from the rest of Ukraine and join Russia. Britain’s benchmark index is down 0.4 percent, while the Germany’s is off 0.7 percent and France’s is 1.3 percent lower. Russia’s main index is down 3 percent.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says 4.2 million people have enrolled for health insurance this year. He tells the medical web site WebMD that he’s confident that’s enough to make the program financially stable. He also acknowledges that the mix of people signing up is more important than the total number. More young and healthy people need to enroll to offset the cost of caring for older, sicker patients
LONDON (AP) — Young computer experts in London are working to figure out what could knock Britain’s banking network off line. The problem is not real, however. It’s an exercise to prepare for the possibility of a cyberattack on the nation’s critical infrastructure. The Cyber Security Challenge is a competition meant to prepare the next generation of Internet defenders. It’s being conducted in the Churchill War Rooms, a World War II-era bunker beneath London’s streets.
HONG KONG (AP) — Most international stock markets fell sharply today over persistent concerns about weakness in the Chinese economy and tensions in Ukraine. The concerns have investors are retreating from risky investments such as stocks. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen. Benchmark crude oil edged higher to just below $98.50 a barrel.
WASHINGTON — A single government report scheduled for release today. The Labor Department will issue the Producer Price Index for February. In January, the cost of producing goods and services rose slightly, with higher food prices partly offset by cheaper gas. Overall, inflation remained mild. The PPI rose 0.2 percent.
TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese government-funded laboratory says it has found “inappropriate handling” of data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper, but has yet to discover anything that amounts to misconduct. The results were seen as a possible groundbreaking method for growing tissue to treat illnesses such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease using a simple lab procedure.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is proposing new rules designed to protect students at for-profit colleges from amassing huge debt they can’t pay off. Previous rules had been thrown out by a federal judge. The latest version would penalize programs that produce graduates without the training needed to find a job with a salary that will allow them to pay off their debt. All schools, for-profit or not, that don’t comply would lose access to the federal student aid programs.
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