Financial
U.S. producer prices rose slight 0.2 percent in January PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 10:56

WASHINGTON (AP) — The cost of producing goods and services in the United States rose slightly in January, with higher food prices partly offset by cheaper gas. Overall, inflation remains mild.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the producer price index, which tracks prices before they reach consumers, rose 0.2 percent in January. That followed a 0.1 percent increase in December and a flat reading in November. In the past year, producer prices have risen just 1.2 percent, below the Federal Reserve's preferred target rate.

Excluding the cost of food, energy and markups by wholesalers and retailers, so-called core prices ticked up just 0.1 percent.

Producer prices remain "rather modest, a sign that underlying inflationary pressures are very modest," Annalisa Piazza, an analyst at Newedge Strategy, said in a note to clients.

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New Jersey appeals to U.S. Supreme Court on sports betting PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 07:34

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey is swinging for the fences in a long-shot effort to overturn a federal ban on sports betting in all but four states, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the ban unconstitutional.

With a federal appeals panel ruling against the state, New Jersey is appealing to the nation's highest court to consider two legal questions: Does the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act usurp state authority, in violation of the 10th amendment? And does its granting permission to only four states to conduct sports betting violate the principal of equal sovereignty?

The panel ruled New Jersey law allowing sports betting conflicts with the federal law, which limits sports betting to states that legalized it before a 1991 deadline — Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. At the time, New Jersey was given the chance to become the fifth state but failed to act during a prescribed window.

But New Jersey says in its appeal, filed Feb. 12, that the federal law is unconstitutional because it treats states differently.

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U.S. housing construction down 16 percent in January PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 10:54

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home construction fell in January for a second month but the weakness in both months reflected severe winter weather in many parts of the country. The expectation is that housing will deliver another year of solid gains, helped by an improving economy.

Builders started work at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 880,000, down 16 percent from December, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. In December, construction had fallen 4.8 percent. The declines in both months were blamed largely on the weather.

Applications for building permits fell in January for a third month, dropping 5.4 percent to a rate of 937,000.

For all of 2013, housing construction rose 17.7 percent to 976,000 units, the best showing since 2007. Analysts expect further gains this year as stronger job growth boosts demand.

For January, both single-family and apartment construction fell. Single-family building dropped 15.9 percent to a rate of 573,000 while apartment construction was down 16.3 percent to 307,000.

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Feds shut down meat plant that supplies schools PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 07:33

HANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Federal inspectors shut down a central California slaughterhouse that supplies beef to the National School Lunch Program because of unsanitary conditions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement Tuesday that it withdrew inspectors and suspended operations at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, about 30 miles south of Fresno, over the conditions.

"The plant's suspension will be lifted once we receive adequate assurances of corrective action," the agency said.

The Times reported that Central Valley Meat didn't respond to a request for comment. Company representatives didn't immediately return a phone message left by The Associated Press on Tuesday evening.

In 2012, Central Valley Meat Co. shut down for a week after Compassion Over Killing, an animal rights group, sent videos to federal officials showing workers torturing cows with electric prods and spraying hot water on the animals, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/1m8qZU8 ).

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