Financial
Merrill paying $131.8M to settle SEC charges PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer   
Thursday, 12 December 2013 15:31

WASHINGTON (AP) — Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay $131.8 million to settle U.S. civil charges that it misled investors about risky mortgage bonds it sold ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Thursday. Merrill Lynch was accused using misleading materials to market the investments in 2006 and 2007. The materials gave investors a false impression that the collateral for the securities was chosen by an independent firm, the SEC said.

Merrill neither admitted nor denied the allegations. But it did agree to refrain from future violations of the securities laws. The SEC also censured Merrill, bringing the possibility of a stiffer sanction if the alleged violation is repeated.

When the housing bubble burst in 2007, millions of home borrowers defaulted on their loans and bundles of mortgages sold by big banks left investors with billions in losses.

Bank of America acquired Merrill at the height of the crisis in September 2008.

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Labor group sees progress at major Apple supplier PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 12 December 2013 15:24

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A labor group monitoring three Chinese factories that make iPhones and other Apple products says once-oppressive working conditions have steadily improved in the last 18 months, but more must be done to reduce the amount of overtime that employees work.

The audit released Thursday by the Fair Labor Association represents the final assessment in a process that started last year at plants run in China by Apple's largest supplier, Foxconn.

Reports depicting the Foxconn plants as inhumane sweatshops prompted Apple Inc. to hold its foreign contractors to higher standards. The Cupertino, Calif., company joined the Fair Labor Association last year as part of a commitment to improve the situation.

Apple is the only major tech company in a 14-year-old labor group that also includes clothing makers, shoe makers and other manufacturers promising to curb abuses in overseas factories.

The report concluded Foxconn factories in Longhua, Chengdu and Guanlan had reached virtually all the goals set out in a plan adopted last year.

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Michael Jordan shoes auctioned for $104,000 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 12 December 2013 15:26

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An auction company says Michael Jordan's shoes from the famous flu game of the 1997 NBA finals have sold for more than $100,000.

The shoes were owned by a Utah Jazz ball boy who befriended Jordan when the Chicago Bulls visited Salt Lake City. Jordan was playing with what he thought was the flu, but still led the Bulls to a key victory in the NBA Finals.

Preston Truman has said he asked for Jordan's shoes after the game.

Truman kept the shoes locked in a safe-deposit box at a Utah bank for 15 years. He recalls turning down an $11,000 offer for the red-and-black shoes from a collector the next season. The recent sale was first reported by ESPN.com.

Grey Flannel Auctions says online bidding started at $5,000 before soaring to more than $104,000 when bidding closed Thursday. The buyer wasn't identified.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
U.S. retail sales rise 0.7 pct., most in five months PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer   
Thursday, 12 December 2013 11:37

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers ramped up spending in November on cars, appliances and furniture and made more purchases online, signaling growing confidence in the economy at the start of the holiday shopping season.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales rose 0.7 percent, the biggest gain in five months. October's figure was also revised higher to 0.6 percent.

Two straight months of healthy sales suggest steady hiring is encouraging Americans to spend more this holiday season, particularly on big-ticket items. That could give a critical boost to the economic growth.

Thursday's report "suggests that the holiday shopping season began on a strong note," Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.

The report also shows that consumers purchased more at home on their computers last month — and less at traditional stores. Those trends could explain why many retail chains estimated disappointing sales over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, one of the most critical for those businesses.

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