IN BRIEF

RENO

Gasoline prices rise locally and statewide

Gasoline prices have increased 3 cents a gallon over the past month in Las Vegas and most of Nevada to a statewide average of $2.17 a gallon. But motorists in Reno have enjoyed a 6 cent drop at the pumps during that period; those in Sparks had an 8 cent decline.

AAA Nevada spokesman Michael Geeser said Tuesday Reno actually was 6 cents higher than much of the rest of the state in February so the 6 cent decline puts the city right at the statewide average for March. In Sparks, the average price is now $2.15 a gallon.

Nevada is now tied with Washington state for the second highest average in the country among the Lower 48 states, trailing only California’s average of $2.20 per gallon.

The highest price outside of Alaska and Hawaii is Tahoe City, Calif., at $2.60.

Other Nevada averages: Carson City, $2.15, unchanged; Elko, $1.86, up 8 cents; North Las Vegas, $2.15, up 3 cents; Henderson, $2.17, up 3 cents.

Airlines tout fares to fill empty seats

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines Co. and other U.S. carriers are offering one-way fares for as little as $37 to fill empty seats, according to travel Web site Bestfares.com.

Southwest, the biggest discounter, is charging $39 for tickets between Los Angeles and Las Vegas or Denver and Salt Lake City, Bestfares.com Chief Executive Officer Tom Parsons said. On AMR Corp.’s American, one-way fares between Dallas and Tulsa, Okla., are $37.

MGM Mirage lands on ‘bottom rung’ listing

Moody’s Investors Service has more than 23 percent of speculative-grade companies in the U.S. on its “Bottom Rung” list, up from 9 percent two years ago, before the credit crisis.

Eastman Kodak Co. and MGM Mirage are among 283 companies most likely to default, the New York-based ratings company said in a report published Tuesday. A year ago, there were 157 on the list.

MGM Mirage, which owns 10 Las Vegas casinos, was added to the “Bottom Rung” this quarter. Gambling revenue in Las Vegas, the biggest betting center in the U.S., fell the most on record last year, causing declining sales at MGM Mirage. Yvette Monet, a spokeswoman for the company, didn’t return a phone call to Bloomberg News seeking comment.

Honda Motor undercuts Toyota price for hybrid

Honda Motor Co., aiming to cut into Toyota Motor Corp.’s dominance of gasoline-electric auto sales, set the U.S. base price of its new Insight hybrid car $2,200 below the least expensive version of Toyota’s top-selling Prius.

The 2010 Insight goes on sale March 24 with a range from $19,800 for the base model LX to $23,100 for the top-end version, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement. Prices for 2009 Prius go from $22,000 for a base model to $27,765 for the Touring version, according to Toyota’s Web site.

Condo buyers haven’t closed deals, Trump says

Developer Donald Trump said the majority of buyers at his Las Vegas condominium project haven’t closed on their purchase because they can’t obtain mortgages.

“We sold 100 percent of the job,” Trump said in an interview. “Seventy percent of the people couldn’t get financing.

Almost 75 percent of the buyers of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas failed to close on their units, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Metropolitan Las Vegas had the second-highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in January, according to RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based seller of default data. The S&P/Case-Shiller index for Las Vegas home prices was 48 percent below its 2006 peak in December.

“The market’s collapsed,” Trump said. “The world’s collapsed.”

WASHINGTON

Fed chief calls for redo of financial rulebook

The nation’s financial rule book must be rewritten to prevent a repeat of the global economic crisis now gripping the United States and other countries, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday.

Bernanke offered new details on how to bolster mutual funds and a program that insures bank deposits. He also stressed the need for regulators to make sure financial companies have a sufficient capital cushion against potential losses.

The Fed chief’s remarks come as the Obama administration and Congress are crafting their overhaul strategies. For the administration, critical work will be carried out among global finance officials this weekend in London ahead of next month’s meeting of leaders from the world’s 20 major economic powers.

CINCINNATI

Kroger earnings rise 8 percent in quarter

Kroger Co. said Tuesday its profits rose 8 percent as shoppers increasingly bypassed restaurants, going to the grocery more often and loading their carts with store brands at record rates.

Kroger said net income was $349.2 million, or 53 cents per share, in the three months ended Jan. 31, up from $322.9 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 0.2 percent to $17.26 billion from $17.23 billion.

NEW YORK

AT&T to add 3,000 jobs and invest $18 billion

AT&T on Tuesday said it will add nearly 3,000 jobs this year and invest up to $18 billion to drive growth.

Dallas-based AT&T says it plans to enhance wireless and broadband networks to provide more coverage.

The capital spending plans are in line with the $17.7 billion AT&T said it spent in 2007, but still below the $19.7 billion it spent in 2008.

AT&T in December said it will cut 12,000 jobs, or about 4 percent of its work force. The job cuts began in late 2008 and will continue throughout 2009.

AT&T shares rose $1.30, or 5.99 percent, Tuesday to close at $23.02 on the New York Stock Exchange.

OAKLAND, CALIF.

Disney investors say no to ‘golden coffin’ plans

Disney investors, meeting at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, rejected a pair of proposals that would have buried so-called “golden coffin” benefits for senior executives and given shareholders a say in executive compensation.

Scott Adams of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Pension Plan Fund handed Disney board members a symbolic golden “nail” and urged them to hammer it into the company’s golden coffin benefits, which offer millions in posthumous payments to the families of top executives. Under Disney’s plan, Chief Executive Bob Iger’s family would stand to receive $4.5 million if he died.

The measure failed, garnering just 27 percent support among shareholders.

DENVER

Ex-Qwest chief looks to stall prison sentence

Former Qwest Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio is seeking to postpone his prison sentence for insider trading, and he asked a court Tuesday that he be allowed to file a formal request under seal because of confidential information about his health.

A filing in U.S. District Court in Denver offered no details. Nacchio’s attorney, Maureen Mahoney, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment Tuesday.

Nacchio was ordered to report to a minimum-security facility in Minersville, Pa., by noon March 23 after an appeals court reinstated his conviction on 19 counts of insider trading. He is still contesting the conviction and six-year sentence.

NEW YORK

Treasury prices decline as stocks head higher

Treasury prices fell Tuesday as stocks rallied and as the government began the week’s auction of $63 billion in notes.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 1.22 to 97.91. Its yield jumped to 2.98 percent from 2.89 percent late Monday. .

The 30-year bond fell 2.88 to 95.97, and its yield rose to 3.71 percent from 3.60 percent.

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