- - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WALL STREET

Stocks fall after Japan raises crisis level

NEW YORK | The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 100 points Tuesday after Japan raised the severity of its nuclear crisis and Alcoa Inc. reported disappointing sales. A drop in oil prices — to $106.25 a barrel — pulled down energy stocks.

Markets also fell in Asia and Europe after Japan said the crisis at its crippled nuclear plant was as serious as the 1986 Chernobyl accident, though much less radiation has leaked.

The plant in northern Japan was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

“It means slower growing coming out of Japan in the short term, and that’s going to weigh on global growth,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners Inc.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 117.53 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at 12,263.58. That is the largest drop since March 16, when the Dow lost 242 points on fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10.30, or 0.8 percent, to 1,314.16. The Nasdaq composite index fell 26.72, or 1 percent, to 2,744.79.

CURRENCY

Yen rises against dollar on Japan nuclear crisis

NEW YORK | The yen and Swiss franc traded higher against the dollar on Tuesday after Japan boosted the crisis level at the nuclear plant damaged in an earthquake and tsunami a month ago.

Nuclear regulators raised the rating from 5 to 7, the highest level for nuclear accidents, putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The dollar was worth 83.63 Japanese yen in afternoon trading, down from 84.75 yen late Monday. The dollar fell to 0.8957 Swiss franc from 0.9066 Swiss franc.

Elsewhere, the euro rose to $1.4486 from $1.4429 late Monday on anticipation that the European Central Bank will raise rates faster than the U.S. Federal Reserve. The European Central Bank raised its key interest rate last week, while the Federal Reserve has kept it at record lows.

INTERNET

Huffington Post, AOL face lawsuit from blogger

NEW YORK | A blogger and union activist has filed a lawsuit against AOL and the Huffington Post for not paying freelance bloggers.

Jonathan Tasini’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday, seeks class-action status on behalf of more than 9,000 writers and other content providers and asks for at least $105 million in damages.

The lawsuit names Huffington Post co-founders Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer as defendants. AOL bought the Huffington Post for $315 million last month.

The lawsuit claims the Huffington Post has been “unjustly enriched” by luring contributors with the prospect of exposure but keeping the financial gain from their articles.

An AOL representative did not return messages for comment.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York.

TECHNOLOGY

Cisco plans to shut Flip camcorder business

NEW YORK | Cisco Systems Inc., the world’s largest maker of computer networking gear, on Tuesday said it is killing its Flip Video camcorder business as part of a reversal of years of efforts at diversifying into consumer products.

The about-face follows several quarters of disappointing results and challenges in Cisco’s core businesses. Analysts say the company has been trying to do too many different things.

A week ago, CEO John Chambers acknowledged the criticism and sent employees a memo vowing to take “bold steps” to narrow the company’s focus.

The San Jose, Calif., company said Tuesday that it expects its consumer business shake-up will result in the loss of 550 jobs, less than 1 percent of its workforce of about 73,000.

CUBA

Sales of Havana Club rum increased in 2010

HAVANA | Sales of Cuba’s flagship rum, Havana Club, rose 15 percent last year as the brand rebounded from a sluggish 2009, the only year the company has posted negative growth.

Havana Club International, formed in 1993 as a partnership between Cuba’s state-run rum monopoly and French wine and spirits maker Pernod Ricard SA, posted sales of 3.8 million cases in 2010, Cuba Ron SA legal adviser Arian Remedios told Cuban news agency Prensa Latina in comments published late Monday.

That is up from 3.3 million cases in 2009 and better than the previous high of 3.4 million in 2008. The company is projecting 4 million cases this year.

Mr. Remedios did not give a dollar figure for sales. Each case contains about 2.4 gallons of liquor.

Europe was the leading market with 57 percent of sales, followed by 31 percent in Cuba, 11 percent elsewhere in Latin America and 1 percent in Asia, Prensa Latina reported.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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