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US stocks rally on Fed minutes, earnings news

NEW YORK (AP) — Once again, it's the Federal Reserve to the rescue.

Major U.S. stock indexes rose broadly yesterday, helped by a report out of the central bank that shows Fed policymakers want to be absolutely certain the U.S. economy has recovered before starting to raise interest rates.

Confident that the Fed won't be raising rates until sometime next year, investors once again embraced some of the market's more risky names. Biotechnology and technology stocks, beaten down over the past week, were among the biggest gainers.

Yesterday's trading had one broad theme: risk on. Investors sold utility and telecommunications stocks -- which are usually less volatile, rich-dividend companies -- and piled into areas that typically benefit from a growing economy: materials makers, industrial companies and technology stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 181 points, or 1.1 percent, to 16,437. The S&P 500 index jumped 20 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,872 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite rose the most, up 71 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,183.90.


Asia stocks muted as China trade drops

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were muted today as worse-than-expected Chinese trade figures tempered optimism stemming from signs the Federal Reserve won't rush to raise interest rates.

Markets appear to have stabilized following the bout of volatility in technology-related shares earlier in the week spurred by jitters over whether technology, Internet and biotech stocks may be overvalued.

The dollar gained against the euro and fell against the yen.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell below $103.50 a barrel.


Major business and economic reports due out today.

WASHINGTON — Investors will be focusing on the government's weekly jobless claims report today.

Also scheduled for release is the federal budget report for March from the Treasury Department and weekly mortgage rates from Freddie Mac.

Selected chain retailers will release March sales comparisons today.


Heartbleed bug causes major security headache

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A confounding computer bug called "Heartbleed" is causing major security headaches across the Internet.

Websites are scrambling to fix the problem and Web surfers are pondering whether they should change their passwords to prevent theft of their email accounts, credit card numbers and other sensitive information.

The breakdown revealed this week affects a widely used encryption technology that is supposed to protect online accounts for a variety of online communications and electronic commerce.

Security researchers who uncovered the threat are particularly worried about the lapse because it went undetected for more than two years. They fear the possibility that computer hackers may have been secretly exploiting the problem before its discovery. It's also possible that no one took advantage of the flaw before its existence was announced late Monday.

Although there is now a way to close the security hole, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned. Experts say no one can make the claim that they were not compromised.


Report on power grid threats mishandled

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Energy Department's inspector general says federal energy regulators improperly allowed widespread access to a document outlining physical threats to the nation's electric grid.

The official says in a "management alert" that the document created by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have been kept secret as a national security matter. Instead it was provided to federal and industry officials in uncontrolled settings.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that a federal analysis indicated that a coordinated terrorist strike on just nine key electric transmission substations could cause cascading power outages across the country.

Senators Mary Landrieu and Lisa Murkowski asked the inspector general to investigate the "apparent leak" to the newspaper. The Senate Energy Committee that Landrieu chairs is holding a hearing on the issue Thursday.


US Treasury raises $2.38B in Ally stock sale

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department says it has sold 95 million shares of its stock in Ally Financial as part of the government's ongoing effort to recoup the billions of dollars spent bailing out companies during the 2008 financial crisis.

Treasury says it got $25 per share in the initial public offering which raised $2.38 billion. The sale brought the amount it has recouped from its bailout of Ally to $17.7 billion, slightly more than the $17.2 billion the government had put up.

The former financing arm of General Motors ran into trouble by making bad bets on subprime mortgages.

With the stock sale, the government's ownership of Ally's common stock will drop from 37 percent to about 17 percent. Further sales of government-owned stock are expected in coming months.


JPMorgan awarded CEO Jamie Dimon $11.8M last year

LOS ANGELES (AP) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon's total compensation fell 37 percent last year to $11.8 million as the nation's largest investment bank grappled with billions in legal costs and fines.

According to regulatory documents filed Wednesday, Dimon's total compensation fell from $18.7 million in 2012

JPMorgan's committee on executive compensation noted in the regulatory filing that it adjusted all of the top company officers' pay levels to account for the impact the fines and settlements had on the lender's financial results.

Last year, JP Morgan was hit legal costs and fines stemming from the housing crisis and its $6 billion "London Whale" trading loss.

The AP's calculation counts salary, bonuses, perks and stock and options awarded to the executive during the year.


Wal-Mart and Wild Oats unveil cheaper organic line

NEW YORK (AP) — Low-cost leader Wal-Mart is using its massive size to drive down the price of organic food items from tomato paste to chicken broth to make them more affordable for its low-income customers.

The world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., has teamed up with Wild Oats to sell a new line of organic foods that's at least 25 percent cheaper than the national organic brands it carries and in line with the prices of its branded non-organic alternatives. Wild Oats helped pioneer the organic food trend in the late 1980s but has largely disappeared from store shelves since 2007.

The move comes as Wal-Mart and other mainstream stores aim to stake a bigger claim in the hot organic market.


China exports unexpectedly fell in March

BEIJING (AP) — China's exports unexpectedly fell in March, raising the danger of job losses as Beijing tries to overhaul its slowing economy.

Trade data on Thursday showed exports tumbled 6.6 percent from a year earlier. Imports were down 11.3 percent in a sign the Chinese economy might slowing further.

Export growth had been expected to recover after an 18.1 percent plunge in February's exports.

The unexpected decline raises the risk of job losses in export-dependent industries that employ millions of Chinese workers.


US senators urge full enforcement on steel imports

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of senators is calling on President Barack Obama's administration to fully enforce trade laws in deciding whether imported steel reinforcing bar from Turkey and Mexico unfairly undercuts U.S. prices.

Thirty-one senators urged the Department of Commerce in a letter to consider the impact of cheaper imports on U.S. steel companies when it issues preliminary rulings this month. Companies in Mexico and Turkey could be subject to duties if found in violation.

The Department of Commerce said Wednesday it takes seriously its obligation to enforce trade laws and will make a final judgment based on the facts in each case.

Steel reinforcing bar is known as rebar. It's one of the largest-volume steel products produced in the U.S., employing more than 10,000 workers in Ohio and several other states.


Workers recover last Corvette from Ky. Sinkhole

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — The last of eight classic Corvettes gobbled up by a giant sinkhole in Kentucky has been recovered, but the mood was somber as the mangled car was pulled to the surface.

The 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette was buried in dirt and rocks, dozens of feet below the surface of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. The man who donated the car to the museum, Kevin Helmintoller, says the vehicle looks like a piece of tin foil.

The prized cars were swallowed by the sinkhole that opened up in February beneath part of the museum.

Museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli says the damage was progressively worse as each car was pulled out.

The museum will display the cars through August. The ones deemed fixable will be shipped to Michigan for repairs.

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