Banking-crisis concern boosts gold prices
Gold topped $950 an ounce during Thursday trading, reaching the highest since July. Concern that the recession and banking crisis may deepen boosted the precious metal’s appeal with investors.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $4.70 to $948.50 an ounce on the spot market. Earlier, the price reached $954 on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest for a most-active contract since July 22.
Investment in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded fund backed by bullion, reached a record 935.1 metric tons Wednesday. Gold prices have climbed 7.3 percent this year.
Agency: Clean Air Act doesn’t cover emissions
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection said it determined carbon dioxide emissions are not subject to the Clean Air Act.
The division said Wednesday that it made that decision based on a ruling by the federal Environmental Appeals Board in the case over the Deseret Power Electric Cooperative’s proposal to build a coal-fired power plant in Utah.
The federal board directed the Environmental Protection Agency to gather information and determine whether carbon dioxide was governed by the Clean Air Act.
The Nevada division will let the public comment on its ruling March 25 at a hearing in Carson City.
The state agency said it has closed the comment period for the White Pine Energy Center, a 1,600-megawatt coal-fired plant that LS Power proposes to build near Ely in eastern Nevada.
Slump cuts Americans’ net worth 20 percent
The recession has cut many Americans’ net worth by about 20 percent as the value of homes, stock portfolios and businesses have plummeted, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.
The Federal Reserve also said the average net worth of American households has fallen 22.7 percent since the recession began in December 2007 through October, when the report was prepared. The median net worth, or the midpoint between the wealthiest and poorest, has fallen 17.8 percent.
The impact has fallen disproportionately on the wealthiest households and people between the ages of 55 and 64, a Federal Reserve economist said.
Net worth tends to peak in that age bracket, as retired Americans begin to spend down their savings.
Coca-Cola earnings fall 18 percent in quarter
Coca-Cola Co. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 18 percent as it felt the effect of the stronger dollar and took several write-downs.
The Atlanta-based company earned $995 million, or 43 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from $1.21 billion, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items such as a charge related to its Coca-Cola Enterprises business, Atlanta-based Coke said it earned 64 cents a share.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected profit of 61 cents per share. Analysts typically exclude one-time items from their estimates.
Revenue fell 2.7 percent to $7.13 billion from $7.33 billion.
Doubts over stimulus send oil prices down
Oil prices slid to a new low for the year Thursday because of growing doubts that the $789 billion stimulus package will reinvigorate the economy and demand for energy.
Crude supplies in the U.S. reached an 82-week high last week, according to the Department of Energy, showing just how far demand has fallen.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery tumbled $1.96, more than 5 percent, to settle at $33.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Cable operator plans to file for bankruptcy
Struggling Charter Communications Inc., the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator, said Thursday that it plans to file a prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy by April 1.
Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, said it has reached an agreement in principle with holders of $8 billion in debt who will forgo repayment of their debt. In return, they will receive common shares, or warrants for rights to get common shares, that translate to nearly owning the entire company after bankruptcy.
Allen will retain the largest voting interest in Charter, although his 51 percent stake in the company will be wiped out.
Charter Communications shares fell 3 cents, or 48.11 percent, Thursday to close at 4 cents on the Nasdaq National Market.
‘Mortal Kombat’ maker undone by big debt
Midway Games Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday because it doesn’t expect to be able to pay back accelerated debt obligations stemming from media magnate Sumner Redstone’s sale of a majority stake in the company.
Midway, best known for the “Mortal Kombat” video games, had about $281 million in debt and $167.5 million in assets as of Sept. 30, according to its bankruptcy filing.
In December, Redstone sold his majority stake in Midway, an interest of about 87.2 percent, to a company led by private investor Mark Thomas.
Treasury prices mixed after bond auction
Treasurys closed mixed Wednesday after the Treasury Department auctioned $14 billion in 30-year bonds to moderate demand.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 0.63 points to 99.66, and its yield fell to 2.72 percent from 2.76 percent.
The 30-year bond fell 1.44 points to 117.72, and its yield rose to 3.52 percent from 3.45 percent late Wednesday.