FINANCIAL & BUSINESS NEWS
from Eyewitness News Online
BUSINESS UPDATELast Update: December 11, 2013 10:45 AM EST
Stocks lower...Grumbling over budget deal...Pace of health care signups increases
The stock market is lower this morning as investors weigh a budget deal out of Washington and a batch of corporate news. Many are also moving to the sidelines ahead of the next meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Dow was off as much as 70 points after the first hour of trading, while the S&P 500 was down nearly 10 and the Nasdaq had lost about 20.
A bipartisan budget deal is producing some grumbling on Capitol Hill. It replaces $63 billion in what would have been automatic cuts to federal agency budgets with $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees over the coming two years. Backers are selling the narrowly drawn deal as a way to stabilize Congress' shaky fiscal practices and avoid another crisis over a government shutdown. But critics say it doesn't solve long-term tax and spending issues.
The Obama administration says the pace of health insurance signups picked up in November. The new national total is close to 365,000 people as of Nov. 30. That is less than one-third the number officials had been aiming for prior to the launch of HealthCare.gov. The balky website has improved but still has some service problems. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is asking the department's inspector general to investigate management and contracting decisions leading up to the launch.
The Food and Drug Administration is taking new action to help phase out the use of antibiotics in meat. The agency says it's asking pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop marketing drugs that are important for treating human infection for use in animal production. The FDA is hoping to limit antibiotic resistant diseases in humans by decreasing the use of the drugs in animals processed for meat.
Anheuser-Busch InBev has lost another European battle over the name Budweiser. A Czech brewery, Budvar, says a Portuguese trade court has upheld a decision prohibiting Anheuser-Busch from selling its beer under the Budweiser name in Portugal. The court in Lisbon ruled that the Budweiser trademarks could be mistaken for the trademarks the brewery has already registered in Portugal.
GOP, Obama line up behind modest budget deal
House Republicans are signaling support for a narrowly drawn, bipartisan budget deal.
The House GOP caucus held a closed-door meeting today, and members emerged saying there's a lot to like.
The deal worked out by Budget committee chairmen Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray replaces $63 billion in what would have been automatic cuts to federal agency budgets with $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees over the coming two years. It includes no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries.
Backers are selling it as a way to stabilize Congress' shaky fiscal practices and avoid another crisis over a government shutdown. But critics say it doesn't solve long-term tax and spending issues.
Still, Republican Congressman Jeff Miller said after this morning's caucus meeting that most Republicans will back the deal.
The House plans to vote before it adjourns for the year on Friday.
DELTA AIR LINES-FEES
Delta CEO: Fliers will pay for higher security fee
The CEO of Delta Air Lines says a bigger security fee being considered in Congress will be paid by travelers, not by the airlines themselves.
CEO Richard Anderson calls the fee a tax and says it means fares are going up. He says the increase will not be absorbed by Delta.
Congress is debating a budget that would add $5 to each nonstop, round-trip ticket. The money is for a Transportation Security Administration fee, which already stands at $5 per ticket.
Airlines have long complained that sales taxes, security fees and airport taxes drive up the cost of their tickets unfairly.
Health care signups pick up pace in November
The Obama administration says the pace of health insurance signups picked up in November.
The new national total of close to 365,000 people as of Nov. 30 is less than one-third the number officials had been aiming for prior to the launch of HealthCare.gov. The balky website has improved but still has some service problems.
A report from the Health and Human Services Department says that more than 137,000 have enrolled in the 36 states served by the federal website, up from fewer than 27,000 in October. The 14 states running their own sites enrolled more than 227,000 people, up from 79,000.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's top health official plans to examine whether deeper problems lurk behind the botched rollout of the health care website. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (seh-BEEL'-yuhs) is asking the department's inspector general to investigate the contracting process, management, performance and payment issues that may have contributed to the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.
FDA targets antibiotics in meat
The Food and Drug Administration is taking new action to help phase out the use of antibiotics in meat.
The agency announced today that it will ask pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop marketing drugs that are important for treating human infection for use in animal production. If the companies sign on, prescriptions would also be required to use the drugs.
The FDA is hoping to limit antibiotic resistant diseases in humans by decreasing the use of the drugs in animals processed for meat.
Consumers have been increasingly concerned about the issue of antibiotics in meat and the FDA has been deliberating the issue for several years. The FDA's Michael Taylor said he believes asking industry to make the changes is the fastest way to help phase the drugs out.
FEMALE SEX PILL
Female libido drug remains in limbo
The 15-year search for a pill that boosts sexual desire in women has hit another roadblock, raising questions about the future of efforts to develop a female equivalent to Viagra.
Sprout Pharmaceuticals said today it has reached an impasse with the Food and Drug Administration over its drug, flibanserin. The daily pill is designed to increase libido in women by acting on brain chemicals linked to mood and appetite.
The FDA questions whether the drug's benefits outweigh its risks, considering its "modest" effectiveness and side effects including fatigue, dizziness and nausea.
Sprout said it's appealing an October letter from the FDA that denied approval and asked for more information. But chances for approval appear slim: Government figures show that of the 17 appeals FDA considered last year, 14 were denied.
UK police: 4 arrested over cybertheft from banks
British police say four people have been arrested by detectives investigating the suspected theft of 1 million pounds from two U.K. banks. That's the equivalent of $1.6 million.
Metropolitan Police say cybercrime detectives launched the operation after being alerted that "a number" of bank customers had unknowingly downloaded malware by opening emails allegedly from their banks. It said 1 million pounds was siphoned from accounts, transferred to be laundered and then withdrawn as cash.
Police said today search warrants at two addresses turned up the equivalent of $131,000 in cash, luxury goods and a suspected live hand grenade. Detectives also seized a Range Rover and computers.
Police said two 31-year-old men are in custody on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, launder money and possessing an explosive. Two women in their 20s have been released on bail.
Pay gains for young women; inequality still seen
About 75 percent of young women believe the U.S. needs to do more to bring about equality in the workplace. A new study finds women feel that way despite a narrowing pay gap and steady employment gains for women at higher levels of business and government.
Those women remain as pessimistic as their mothers and grandmothers regarding gender equality in the workplace. The report released today by the Pew Research Center finds that women under 32 now make 93 percent of what young men earn. But the analysis of census and labor data also shows the gender pay gap likely will widen by their mid-30s.
That widening gap is due in part to the many women who take time off or reduce their hours to start families.
Delay in Pacific trade pact hurts US shift to Asia
The failure to finalize a landmark trans-Pacific trade pact this year as planned has dealt a blow to President Barack Obama's policy shift to Asia.
While negotiators say they have made substantial progress, myriad hurdles remain to creating a bloc encompassing a third of global trade. One of the biggest hurdles will be winning the backing of Congress.
As recently as October, the leaders of the 12 nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership had said their goal was to reach agreement by the end of 2013, although most analysts had viewed that as unrealistic.
Labor groups and some Democratic lawmakers pounced on the indecisive outcome yesterday of closed-door deliberations by trade ministers in Singapore.
To smooth passage of an eventual deal, the Obama administration will need strong Republican support.
Czech Budvar claims win over AB InBev in Portugal
The Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar (BOO'-deh-yoh-WIT'-skee BOOD'-vahr) NP says a Portuguese trade court has upheld a decision prohibiting its rival, Anheuser-Busch InBev, from using the Budweiser name in the country.
State-owned Budvar says the ruling bans AB InBev, the world's largest brewer, from selling its beer under the Budweiser name in Portugal.
In a statement today, Budvar said the court in Lisbon rejected AB InBev's challenge because its Budweiser trademarks could be mistaken for the trademarks Budvar had already registered in Portugal. AB InBev still can appeal.
Budvar has been fighting with Anheuser-Busch for more than a century over use of the Budweiser brand. The legal battle continued when Anheuser-Busch was taken over by Belgian brewer InBev in 2008.
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