US retail sales rise in April on cars, clothing
WASHINGTON — Lower-priced gas allowed Americans to step up their spending at retailers in April, from cars and clothes to electronics and appliances. The rebound from a weak March suggests consumers remain resilient in the face of higher taxes and could continue to drive economic growth this spring.
Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent in April, the Commerce Department said Monday. That's an improvement from a 0.5 percent decline in March, the largest drop in nine months.
The April gain was stronger when taking out the effect of lower gas prices, which reduced sales at gas stations 4.7 percent. The retail sales report is not adjusted for price changes.
LinkedIn looks to build on its impressive resume
MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — LinkedIn and Facebook will celebrate the anniversaries of their IPOs just a few days apart this week. But their experiences as publicly traded companies couldn't be more different.
LinkedIn Corp. promotes its service as a stepping stone to a more enriching career. As it turns out, the professional networking company's initial public offering was a great place to start a rewarding investment portfolio, too. LinkedIn's stock has nearly quadrupled in value from its $45 IPO price on May 20 two years ago. On Monday, it closed at $175.03 per share. In contrast, Facebook's stock is hovering around $27 per share, down 29 percent since debuted on May 18, 2012 at $38.
LinkedIn is emerging as the standout performer among its cohort of hotly anticipated IPOs from Internet companies that connect people with common interests. The company is growing faster and yielding far better shareholder returns than the rest of a class that includes online deals maker Groupon Inc., Web game maker Zynga Inc. and business review site Yelp Inc., as well social networking leader Facebook Inc.
With the exception of Yelp, the stocks of all those other companies are stuck well below their initial public offering prices. Although Groupon and Zynga have fared worse, Facebook has been the highest-profile disappointment.
Huge drug cost disparities seen in health overhaul
WASHINGTON — Cancer patients could face high costs for medications under President Barack Obama's health care law, industry analysts and advocates warn.
Where you live could make a huge difference in what you'll pay.
To try to keep premiums low, some states are allowing insurers to charge patients a hefty share of the cost for expensive medications used to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other life-altering chronic diseases.
Such "specialty drugs" can cost thousands of dollars a month, and in California, patients would pay up to 30 percent of the cost. For one widely used cancer drug, Gleevec, the patient could pay more than $2,000 for a month's supply, says the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
High court rules for Monsanto in patent case
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto Co.'s patents on soybean seeds resistant to its weed-killer by growing the beans without buying new seeds from the corporation.
The justices unanimously rejected the farmer's argument that cheap soybeans he bought from a grain elevator are not covered by the Monsanto patents, even though most of them also were genetically modified to resist the company's Roundup herbicide.
While Monsanto won this case, the court refused to make a sweeping decision that would cover other self-replicating technologies like DNA molecules and nanotechnologies, leaving that for another day. Businesses and researchers had been closely watching this case in hopes of getting guidance on patents, but Justice Elena Kagan said the court's holding Monday only "addresses the situation before us."
In a statement, Monsanto officials said they were pleased with the court's ruling.
Bloomberg editor apologizes on information access
NEW YORK — The editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News apologized Monday for the financial news service's practice of accessing private data on clients through the company's information service.
Journalists at Bloomberg News, until recently, had been able to see when clients last accessed their Bloomberg information terminals and what broad categories of functions they used. Goldman Sachs had complained that a Bloomberg reporter was using the information to investigate if a Goldman employee had departed.
The Federal Reserve is looking into whether Bloomberg journalists tracked data about terminal usage by top Fed officials.
Search ends in Bangladesh; death toll put at 1,127
SAVAR, Bangladesh — Several of the biggest Western retailers embraced a plan that would require them to help pay for factory improvements in Bangladesh as the nearly three-week search for victims of the worst garment-industry disaster in history ended Monday with the death toll at a staggering 1,127.
Bangladesh's government also agreed to allow garment workers to form unions without permission from factory owners. That decision came a day after it announced a plan to raise the minimum wage in the industry.
The collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza factory building April 24 focused worldwide attention on hazardous conditions in Bangladesh's garment industry, where workers sew low-cost clothing that ends up on store shelves around the globe, including the U.S. and Western Europe.
Amtrak unveils locomotives to replace aging fleet
NEWARK, New Jersey — When Amtrak unveils the first of 70 new locomotives Monday at a plant in California, it will mark what the national passenger railroad service hopes will be a new era of better reliability, streamlined maintenance and better energy efficiency.
On a broader scale, the new engines could well be viewed as emblematic of the improving financial health of Amtrak, which has long been dependent on subsidies from an often reluctant Congress.
More than 31 million passengers rode Amtrak in the 2012 fiscal year, generating a record $2.02 billion in ticket revenue. Amtrak says it will be able to pay back a $466 million federal loan for the locomotives over 25 years using net profits from the Northeast Corridor line, where ridership hit a record high last year for the ninth time in 10 years.
US business stockpiles flat in March, sales fall
WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses left their stockpiles unchanged in March for a second straight month while their sales fell sharply.
The Commerce Department said Monday that business stockpiles showed no increase in March on a seasonally adjusted basis. Businesses hadn't upped their restocking in February, either. Sales fell 1.1 percent in March, offsetting a 1 percent gain in February.
A lack of inventory building could slow economic growth because it means businesses are ordering fewer factory-made goods, especially when sales are falling. However, a report on spending at retail businesses in April suggests consumers rebounded after a weak March. That could lead businesses to replenish their shelves this spring.
GM says supercomputers to keep recalls in check
WARREN, Michigan — General Motors Co. says a new supercomputing data center and a fledgling shift to bring software development in-house should help it limit the size of future safety recalls.
The Detroit automaker, which formally opened the giant data storage center in suburban Warren, Michigan, on Monday, said the changes are examples of how it is moving faster to cut costs and serve its customers better by bringing more computer technology inside the company.
In the past, GM's regional operations tracked problems by themselves, sometimes without communicating with other regions, even though many of its cars are now sold worldwide. Engineers in one region would check a problem part, but it wasn't studied worldwide, at least not at the early stages.
Now, with new software developed by GM's so-called innovation centers and the data storage, problems are spotted quickly when they crop up across the globe, and they're assigned to the right engineer who can work with parts makers to fix the problem faster, said Randy Mott, the company's chief information officer.
Dell board committee seeks more info on Icahn plan
Dell board members say they need more details from investor Carl Icahn if he wants them to seriously consider his latest challenge to Michael Dell's $24.4 billion plan to take the computer maker private.
Icahn and prominent Dell shareholder Southeastern Asset Management said last week they want to keep Dell Inc. publicly traded and give shareholders $12 in cash or more shares.
But a Dell board special committee said in a Monday letter that the proposal comes with many unanswered questions. They want to know whether Icahn and Southeastern want the board to treat their offer as an acquisition proposal it might endorse or if it is an alternative in case shareholders reject Michael Dell's offer.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 26.81 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,091.68. The S&P 500 index was little changed at 1,633.77. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.21 points, 0.1 percent, to 3,438.79.
Benchmark oil for June delivery fell 87 cents to finish at $95.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is a benchmark for many international oil varieties, was down $1.09 to end at $102.82 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to finish at $2.82 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to end at $2.89 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to finish at $3.93 per 1,000 cubic feet