- - Monday, January 31, 2011

FED

Slight bank easing found for business loans

The Federal Reserve said Monday that banks loosened their lending standards modestly for certain business loans over the past three months, but kept tight standards on consumer loans.

The Fed said that 12 percent of the banks responding to its latest survey had somewhat eased their standards on commercial and industrial loans.

However, the survey found little change in the tight lending standards imposed on consumer loans since the housing market collapsed.

For the business loans, banks said the slight easing in standards reflected a less uncertain economic outlook and increased competition from other banks to make business loans.

The Fed’s survey covered 57 domestic banks. That included all of the nation’s largest institutions, which represent the bulk of lending activity in the country.

Forty-nine of the banks said their commercial and industrial lending policies were basically unchanged.

ILLINOIS

Emanuel wins paper endorsement

The Chicago Sun-Times has endorsed Rahm Emanuel - President Obama’s former chief of staff - in the race for mayor, calling him an “adaptive politician” and a “high-minded man.”

In an editorial that ran Monday, the paper said Mr. Emanuel “has the vision, the policies, the management experience, the political sophistication and the sheer force of personality to be a powerfully effective mayor.”

The paper acknowledged the former congressman’s reputation for being ruthless and a bully. But the editorial went on to say the “caricature fails to allow for Emanuel’s more agreeable traits and skills, such as his readiness to find common ground, build a coalition and strike a deal.”

Other candidates in the race include former Chicago schools president Gery Chico and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

The endorsement by the Sun-Times - Illinois’ second-largest newspaper, with the bulk of its distribution within the Chicago city limits -is considered a significant pickup for Mr. Emanuel.

HOMELAND SECURITY

Napolitano touts U.S. border safety

EL PASO, Texas | Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said U.S. communities on the border with Mexico are safer than most Americans think.

Ms. Napolitano on Monday also warned Mexican drug cartels to keep violence on their side of the border. She said those who don’t “will be met with an overwhelming response.”

Ms. Napolitano was at the University of Texas at El Paso, across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

She said that U.S. apprehensions of illegal immigrants fell 30 percent in the last two years, while deportations exceeded 779,000.

HOUSE

Panel: Drilling firms still use diesel

Congressional investigators say oil and gas companies have injected more than 32 million gallons of fluids containing diesel fuel in a widely used technique known as hydraulic fracturing.

Democratic lawmakers say the practice by large companies, such as Halliburton and BJ Services Co., appears to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act, because the companies did not obtain needed permits for use of diesel fuel.

The probe by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, found no evidence that the practice contaminated water supplies.

The probe found that 12 of 14 companies hired to perform hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” used diesel alone or in a mixture from 2005 to 2009. Of the 32.2 million gallons reported, most was injected in Texas, followed by Oklahoma, North Dakota, Louisiana and Wyoming.

SAFETY

Study: Red-light cameras cut fatalities

A new study finds that red-light cameras are saving lives by helping Americans remember that red means stop.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is releasing a study Tuesday that reports that the cameras have reduced fatal crashes by 24 percent in 14 large cities, where the devices were introduced between 1996 and 2004.

Institute President Adrian Lund says the study shows red-light cameras work, crediting them with saving hundreds of lives.

MISSOURI

GOP lawyer to run for Senate

JEFFERSON CITY | A Missouri Republican who narrowly lost a bid for Congress in November says he will seek Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s U.S. Senate seat in 2012.

Lawyer Ed Martin announced his candidacy Monday and wasted no time trying to link Mrs. McCaskill with policies championed by President Obama.

In a news release, Mr. Martin highlighted Mrs. McCaskill’s support for the economic stimulus act and the federal health care overhaul, which he deemed “ObamaClaire.”

Another Republican, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, declared her candidacy in December, and several other Republicans have said they’re considering running.

Mr. Martin narrowly lost a bid for Congress last year against Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan, of St. Louis. He previously was chief of staff to former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt.

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