IN BRIEF

Talk will address housing, foreclosure

Mortgage Lending Commissioner Joseph Waltuch and Elisabeth Shurtleff, chairwoman of the Nevada Fight Fraud Taskforce, will speak today on housing foreclosure, loan modification and common scams.

The meeting, part of the Congress of Racial Equality’s series of free monthly seminars on financial issues, will start at 7:30 p.m. at Texas Station, 2101 Texas Star Lane.

Call 633-4464 for reservations.

MGM Mirage stock dips after payment made

Shares of MGM Mirage continued to drop Monday following the casino operator’s decision to pump $200 million into its troubled $8.7 billion CityCenter project.

On Friday the company, which is majority-owned by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, agreed to make the equity payment that includes the part owned by partner Dubai World. MGM was allowed to cover Dubai World’s commitment because the lenders agreed to a waiver. MGM and Dubai World still need to put up approximately $800 million more in equity before they can tap into a $1.8 billion credit agreement that completes the project’s funding.

MGM Mirage shares fell 45 cents, or 15.79 percent, Monday to close at $2.40 on the New York Stock Exchange.

HOUSTON

Unease over economy sends oil prices down

Oil prices tumbled below $49 Monday as unease about the economy, from Asia to Wall Street, raised doubts about the global appetite for energy.

Benchmark crude for May delivery fell more than 7.6 percent, or $3.97, to settle at $48.41 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consulting group Ritterbusch and Associates, said he expects oil to fall as low as $47 in advance of the U.S. crude inventory report, the monthly unemployment report and a meeting of the Group of 20 world leaders in London, all this week.

Bachelor venue coming to Hard Rock Hotel

The Hard Rock Hotel is tilting from Sin City to Skin City.

The Hard Rock Hotel and gentlemen’s club chain Rick’s Cabaret International announced Monday that they have partnered to design the “ultimate bachelor party venue” suite at the niche property.

The suite will be outfitted with a nightclub style sound and lighting system, goose down pillows, a master bath with a personal spa and, yes, a stripper pole.

The renter of the suite would, presumably, will have to provide his or her own stripper.

American Airlines to broaden Net access

American Airlines plans to expand internet access to about half its fleet of aircraft over the next two years as it attempts to raise revenue and improve customer service.

The company said Monday it will install flying Wi-Fi hot spots on about 300 planes used in the continental United States and charge up to $12.95 for browsing the Web, sending e-mail or connecting with corporate virtual private network sites.

The Internet access will be filtered to block pornographic sites.

American has been testing in-flight Internet service for several months on 15 planes.

WASHINGTON

Interest rates mixed in Treasury auction

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills were mixed in Monday’s auction with rates on three-month bills falling to the lowest level in two months while rates on six-month bills edged up.

The Treasury Department auctioned $31 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.195 percent, down from 0.225 percent last week. Another $29 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.42 percent, up from 0.39 percent last week.

Concerns over future send bank stocks down

Bank stocks are retreating amid fresh concerns that financial firms will need additional capital to weather the credit crisis and recession.

The KBW Bank Index, which tracks 24 of the nation’s largest banks, fell more than 7 percent to 27.06.

The fall comes a day after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said during television interviews that the struggling banking sector might need even more money to help it right itself and increase lending.

The comments by Geithner affirmed that the credit crisis and recession is still weighing on banks.

LOS ANGELES

Former KB Home CEO enters not guilty plea

Former KB Home Chief Executive Bruce Karatz pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday to charges that he secretly backdated stock options to enrich himself and then concealed the scheme from regulators and investors.

Karatz, 63, entered the plea during a brief court appearance before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Johnson here. Johnson scheduled trial for May 19.

Karatz, who declined to comment after the hearing, could face a maximum sentence of 415 years in prison if convicted on all 20 felony charges. Regulators say Karatz personally netted more than $7 million from the backdating of options at Los Angeles-based KB Home. He served as chairman and chief executive from 1986 to 2006, when he resigned under fire.

He is one of just six executives nationwide to face criminal charges in the stock-option-manipulation scandal.

Free on $750,000 bond secured by his Bel-Air mansion, Karatz appeared in court with attorney John Keker of the San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest. Keker declined to comment after the hearing.

MILPITAS, Calif.

KLA-Tencor will lay off 10 percent of staff

KLA-Tencor Corp. is laying off 10 percent of its global work force and consolidating facilities to cut costs as business conditions remain difficult.

The maker of chip manufacturing equipment, which had announced an earlier round of layoffs in November, aims to reduce quarterly operating costs by $140 million to $145 million by the end of the year. That’s down from the previous goal of $165 million to $170 million.

The company will also require time-off from workers and cut employee stock purchase plan benefits.

SAN FRANCISCO

Netflix raising prices for Blu-ray DVD rentals

Online digital video disc rental leader Netflix Inc. is raising its prices for Blu-ray discs in a change that will triple or quadruple the high-definition surcharge on Netflix’s most popular subscription plans.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company had been imposing a $1 monthly surcharge for Blu-ray rentals since September, regardless of how much the basic subscription plan costs.

Effective April 27, Netflix will adopt a sliding scale that will slap higher Blu-ray fees on plans that enable customers to check out multiple DVDs at a time.

Renters who pay $14 per month for Netflix’s two-DVD package will have to fork over another $3 if they want Blu-ray discs. Under another popular plan that costs $17 per month for three DVDs, customers who prefer Blu-ray discs will have to pay an additional $4.

All monthly fees will remain the same for customers who exclusively rent standard DVDs.

Netflix shares rose $2.35, or 5.92 percent, Monday to close at $42.03 on the Nasdaq National Market.

Google agrees to pay $20 million settlement

Google Inc., owner of the most-used Web-search engine, tentatively agreed to pay $20 million to resolve a lawsuit over claims it overcharged for advertisements that accompany Web search results.

CLRB Hanson Industries LLC sued in federal court in San Jose, Calif., claiming Google charges too much for text-based advertisements that appear alongside Internet search results. Under the proposed settlement, which needs a judge’s approval, Google would pay $20 million in cash and credits to users of its AdWords program, according to a March 26 court filing by the plaintiffs.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., sells the ads using an online auction in which companies bid the amount they’re willing to pay when users click on ads.

NEW YORK

Car industry worries push Treasurys higher

Treasury prices mostly advanced Monday as worries about the stability of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC sent stocks tumbling.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 0.38 points to 100.25. Its yield fell to 2.71 percent late Monday from 2.76 percent late Friday. Prices move opposite to yields.

The 30-year bond rose 0.25 points to 98.16, and its yield fell to 3.60 percent from 3.62 percent.

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