- - Thursday, April 14, 2011

CURRENCY

Dollar weakens after jobless claims rise

NEW YORK | The dollar fell against most major currencies after a government report showed that unemployment benefits in the U.S. rose unexpectedly.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits rose 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 412,000 last week. Economists expected a drop in claims.

The euro rose to $1.4490 in late afternoon trading Thursday in New York, from $1.4441 late Wednesday.

The euro has risen about 1.3 percent against the dollar since the European Central Bank raised its key interest rate a week ago. Central banks raise interest rates to curb inflation. Higher rates also tend to increase demand for the currency linked to that country or region.

Analysts have said that the Federal Reserve’s reluctance to raise rates has put pressure on the dollar. The U.S. central bank has kept its benchmark rate near zero since December 2008.

GLOBAL ECONOMY

Crisis plan, recovery risks pondered at G20

The United States tried to instill confidence Thursday that the global recovery was not at risk as global finance chiefs gathered to advance a plan to prevent future economic crises.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 rich and emerging countries, and the smaller Group of Seven developed nations, will also weigh the impact of high oil prices, huge government debts and Japan’s disasters.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, speaking at a conference on the global economy, said the recovery from the 2007-2009 financial crisis was intact and that investment and hiring were starting to pick up.

“Despite the risks in oil, the financial challenges still facing parts of Europe, despite what’s happened in Japan … what you see is gradual healing, gradual strengthening in confidence that the world economy is going to be growing at a reasonable rate,” he insisted.

To prolong recovery, G20 officials were to push forward at a working dinner with plans to build a world economy less prone to the booms and busts that have marked the past two decades.

That would involve shrinking imbalances between export-rich countries such as China and debt-burdened countries such as the United States. Many economists blame such imbalances for sowing the seeds for the crisis.

AUTO

Recall of Ford F-150 pickups hiked

DETROIT | Under pressure from government safety regulators, Ford Motor Co. is expanding a recall of the popular F-150 pickup truck to include nearly 1.2 million vehicles that may have defective air bags.

The additional recall, announced Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, covers trucks from the 2004 through 2006 model years. An electrical short can cause the air bags to deploy unexpectedly, in some cases injuring drivers.

In February, Ford agreed to fix 150,000 of the trucks but resisted the government’s wishes to recall all 1.2 million trucks that may have the problem.

Ford’s F-Series pickup truck is the top-selling vehicle in America, and the F-150 makes up about 60 percent of F-Series sales. Through March, the company sold nearly 127,000 of the pickups. The F-Series also includes heavier-duty trucks such as the F-250 and F-350.

RECALL

Epilepsy pills recalled by health care giant

TRENTON, N.J. | Johnson & Johnson issued yet another recall Thursday, this one for about 57,000 bottles of a widely used epilepsy pill, due to complaints of a chemical odor.

The health care giant said it is recalling two lots of 100-milligram tablets of Topamax, sold between Oct. 19 and Dec. 28, 2010. The lot numbers are OKG110 and OLG222. J&J said fewer than 6,000 of the bottles are believed to still be on the market.

J&J said only that the pills were sold in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The New Brunswick, N.J., company has now issued 22 product recalls, involving well above 300 million bottles of medicines, since September 2009.

Many of the recalls involved widely used nonprescription drugs such as Motrin and Children’s Tylenol. The reasons have ranged from metal and other contaminants, to nauseating odors and packaging issues. Joint replacement systems so painful they required corrective surgery were also recalled, as were contact lenses that irritated eyes, along with potentially contaminated syringes full of the antipsychotic drug Invega.

EGYPT

Egypt seeks forgiveness of $3.6 billion owed U.S.

Egypt has asked the United States to forgive about $3.6 billion in debt to help the country’s new government restore growth and create jobs for its young people, a top Egyptian official said Thursday.

“What we’re asking for from our American friends is to give us debt forgiveness,” Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fayza Mohamed Aboulnaga said in remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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