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Economy Briefs

- - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WALL STREET

Stocks end lower on Greek-talks worries, earnings

NEW YORK | Stocks fell Tuesday on concerns that a deal to prevent a default by Greece might fall through.

A slew of U.S. corporate earnings Tuesday also did little to bolster investors' confidence.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 33 points at 12,676. It has risen or fallen less than 100 points in 13 trading sessions, the longest calm stretch since March and April of last year.

The Standard & Poor's 500 lost a point to close at 1,315. It's only the third time the S&P has ended lower this year, all those declines have been less than seven points. So far this year, it's up about 4.5 percent.

The Nasdaq added two points Tuesday to close at 2,787 after a day of wavering between small gains and losses. Tech stocks could be in for a strong day Wednesday after Apple Inc. reported sharply higher earnings after the market closed Tuesday, trouncing analysts' estimates.

Rising stocks slightly outnumbered falling ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was lighter than average at 3.7 billion shares.

SALARIES

Report: Pay czar failed to curb excessive bank pay

A watchdog says bank executives and Treasury officials pressured a top government official to allow banks to bypass pay restrictions established in the $700 billion bailout.

The deputy special inspector general for the bailout says in a report that pay czar Kenneth Feinberg approved salaries for five executives in excess of the $500,000 limit. Mr. Feinberg also approved pay packages, which included stock and other forms of compensation, worth $5 million or more for 49 executives, the report says.

Treasury wanted banks to pay competitive salaries so they could keep top executives and be in shape to repay the bailouts, the report says.

INTERNET

Google to merge user data across more services

LOS ANGELES | Google Inc. is overhauling the way it treats user data, linking information across its array of email, video and social-networking services so that information gathered in one place can be used in another.

For example, if you spent the last hour logged into Google to search the Web for skateboards, the next time you log into YouTube, there's a good chance you'll get recommendations for videos featuring Tony Hawk.

The changes take effect March 1 and remove some of the legal hurdles that Google faced by having more than 70 different privacy policies across various services. Now, there will be one main policy covering services such as Google Plus, Gmail, search, YouTube and Maps, with separate ones covering sensitive services such as Google Wallet.

Still, the changes could irk privacy critics because of the sheer volume of information collected - including your location, list of contacts and the contents of your email.

APPOINTMENT

Target names new chief financial officer

MINNEAPOLIS | Target is promoting John Mulligan to chief financial officer.

The move is effective April 1.

Mr. Mulligan, 46, is replacing Doug Scovanner. He had been CFO for 18 years and said in November that he would step down.

Mr. Mulligan has been with discount retailer Target for 16 years in a variety of positions. Most recently he was senior vice president of finance.

Mr. Scovanner will remain with Target part time until November 2012.

The company has rebounded after consumers cut back on spending during the recession, but the rebound has been uneven. Minneapolis-based Target earlier this month lowered its fourth-quarter earnings expectations after disappointing December sales. Net income in its most recent quarter rose 4 percent while sales rose 5.4 percent.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports