You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Economy Briefs

- - Thursday, February 2, 2012

LEGAL

Honda's small claims loss may inspire more cases

LOS ANGELES — A California woman who started out to win a small claims court judgment from Honda may have launched a consumer revolution.

Heather Peters, who won nearly $10,000 in a ruling from a court commissioner, said Thursday she expects other Honda owners to follow her lead. Many plan to opt out of a class-action settlement to pursue their own suits.

Ms. Peters was inundated with so many Internet messages that her computer crashed. And she has received dozens of email messages from those who plan to follow her lead.

One legal analyst told the Associated Press that Ms. Peters' use of social networks and the Internet showed how to start a consumer movement, while another compared Ms. Peters success to starting a small-claims flash mob.

Honda is appealing the judgment.

CONSUMERS

Retailers deliver solid sales gains for January

NEW YORK — Americans were shopping in January, but not every store was benefiting.

Retailers reported mixed sales results for the month in a sign that U.S. consumers continue to be cautious about when and where they spend their money in the shaky economy.

Overall, merchants reported on Thursday a 4.8 percent increase for January, according to the International Council of Shopping Center's tally of 20 retailers. That's above the 3 percent gain that ICSC had expected.

But the results were divided. Retailers such as Target that sell basic household goods did well, as did chains such as Saks that cater to wealthier shoppers. Meanwhile, Macy's and other stores that sell midprice clothing posted disappointing results.

WALL STREET

NYSE, Deutsche Boersecall off merger on EU block

NEW YORK — The New York Stock Exchange and German exchange Deutsche Boerse called off their planned merger Thursday, a day after the European Union said it would block the union because of concerns about a monopoly.

The two exchanges announced in February 2011 they would merge in a $10 billion deal. But the European Commission, the EU's executive body, said the combined company would control 90 percent of the trading of some financial products in Europe.

The European decision was a blow to the combined dreams of Deutsche Boerse AG and NYSE Euronext, the NYSE's parent company. They had hoped to compete better with other large exchanges in the U.S. and Asia.

In the U.S., the planned merger made waves because it would have meant foreign control of the storied trading floor at 11 Wall St. in New York. Despite political opposition to the deal, it got the green light from regulators in the U.S.

In Europe, however, the regulatory discussions revolved around control.

NEW JERSEY

Vending company's CFO cited in $3M Pepsi fraud

NEWARK — The chief financial officer of a vending company was a key player in a conspiracy to defraud Pepsi Bottling Group of nearly $3 million over a 10-year period, according to a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

Joseph Belasco, 62, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for each count and ordered to pay fines totaling $1.75 million and forfeit an additional $4 million.

Prosecutors say Mr. Belasco worked with a Pepsi sales representative, his wife and another executive in Mr. Belasco's firm, Culinary Ventures Vending in a long-running scheme. The others haven't been charged with any crimes, and their names weren't disclosed in the court filings.

According to the federal grand jury indictment, Impact Marketing, a subsidiary of Culinary Ventures, was to be paid for providing Pepsi with leads for new customers. But in the scam, the indictment said, the company got credit for finding customers who already sold Pepsi products or were found by Pepsi representatives rather than Culinary Ventures.

From wire dispatches and staff reports