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Economy Briefs: Natural gas prices surge on smaller supply report
Question of the Day
NEW YORK — Natural gas prices surged Thursday after a report showing a smaller than expected increase in U.S. supplies.
Futures rose 12 cents, or 4 percent, to $3.05 per 1,000 cubic feet Thursday in New York.
The Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas in storage grew by 24 billion cubic feet to 3.241 trillion cubic feet for the week ended Aug. 3.
Analysts expected a rise of 27 billion cubic feet to 31 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.
Still, energy analyst Stephen Schork believes that natural gas prices may be peaking as the summer winds down. "We are on the down slope of seasonal demand," Mr. Schork said in an emailed report.
Natural gas futures have increased about 62 percent since hitting a 10-year low in April because of the hot summer weather. July was the hottest month on record, according to government scientists.
GM head promises to end fiefdom culture
DETROIT — A frustrated but upbeat General Motors CEO told employees that he's working to wipe out fiefdoms that remain in the company and to bring its culture into the 21st century.
Chief Executive Dan Akerson told workers during a meeting Thursday that GM has made progress in shrinking its bureaucracy, but he urged them to be leaders and to fix problems rather than being told what to do.
"You shouldn't stand around waiting for somebody to tell you where we're going to go," the former telecommunications and private equity executive said. "We've got to get this company and the culture into the 21st century."
The town-hall meeting, which employees could phone into, gave Mr. Akerson a chance to reassure the rank and file after a series of management changes at the top, including the ouster of GM's marketing chief. The company also reported a 41 percent drop in second-quarter earnings last week, due mainly to losses in Europe.
SEC won't file charges against Goldman Sachs
NEW YORK — The Securities and Exchange Commission has decided not to file charges against Goldman Sachs over a $1.3 billion subprime mortgage portfolio.
The SEC's decision, which Goldman reported in a regulatory filing, is a coup for Goldman, which has paid fines after other mortgage-related investigations.
Goldman and other banks packaged risky mortgages into securities to sell to investors in the run-up to the financial crisis. They've been accused of misleading investors about the risks.
The SEC had notified Goldman in February that it was looking into the bank's disclosures about this mortgage portfolio, which the bank created in 2006. Other media outlets reported that it was known as the Fremont mortgage portfolio.
Goldman didn't give details except to say the SEC notified it on Monday that it wouldn't pursue enforcement action.
Facebook has new email address for phishing scams
NEW YORK — Facebook has created an email address for people to report scams.
The address is phish(at)fb.com. Anyone -- even those who aren't on Facebook -- can use it to report malicious emails that pretend to come from Facebook.
Known as phishing, such emails attempt to get passwords and other information by pretending to come from a legitimate business. Because many people use the same passwords at banking and other sites, someone who gets account information for Facebook can log on elsewhere.
Facebook Inc. says scams tend to contain information that's more vague than what's in legitimate emails from Facebook.
Facebook says it will report scams to outside security companies and notify blacklists that Internet companies keep to block malicious websites. It will also prevent users from posting such links on Facebook.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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