Imports drive higher U.S. trade deficit
The U.S. trade deficit widened sharply in January, driven higher by record imports of autos, capital goods and food, government data showed Friday. The trade gap expanded 4.3 percent in January, to $52.6 billion from $50.4 billion in December. This is the largest monthly differential between imports and exports since October 2008 and came in much bigger than had been expected.
Fast rising gasoline prices start to hold steady
Gasoline prices nationally paused this week in their march toward $4 per gallon. After nearly 30 straight days of increases, prices fell nearly a penny from Tuesday to Thursday and held steady on Friday at $3.758 per gallon. Prices dipped as suppliers discounted winter gasoline blends to make room for blends required for summer driving. Prices will start to rise again once the winter gasoline is gone. In Utah, the average cost of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline Friday was $3.54, according to AAA Utah, up 18 cents from a week ago.
Texas state fund attracts $304M Apple investment
Apple Inc. is investing $304 million in a new campus and more than doubling its workforce in Austin, Texas, boosted by a $21 million incentive from a state fund designed to attract high-tech companies. The investment comes in exchange for a promise that Apple will add 3,600 employees at its new facility over the next decade, including customer support, sales and accounting staff. Already the world’s most valuable company, Apple’s market capitalization topped $500 billion this month and remains above that mark.
Offshore fortunes drive Carnival earnings down
Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise-ship operator, posted a $139 million first-quarter loss, after the grounding of its Costa Concordia off Italy killed at least 25 people. The loss equaled 18 cents a share, and compared with net income of $152 million, or 19 cents, a year earlier. Fallout from the Concordia, which ran aground in January, will extend through 2012, the company said. Carnival’s troubles grew when another Costa Cruises ship, the Allegra, was towed to shore to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean after catching fire on Feb. 27, and 22 guests on the Carnival Splendor were robbed on land in Mexico.
Fannie, Freddie exec pay to be capped at $500,000
The government says it will cap pay for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac CEOs at $500,000 per year and eliminate annual bonuses for all employees. The changes come after Congress pressured the government to stop big payouts at the bailed-out mortgage giants. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, also said Friday it would cut pay for roughly 50 other executives at the two companies.
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