- - Monday, June 4, 2012

BERLIN — Germany’s powerful industry lobby group said it will independently monitor the country’s ambitious switchover from nuclear power to renewable energies over the next decade.

Hans-Peter Keitel, head of the BDI lobby group, on Monday criticized the government’s lack of resolve in following up on last year’s decision to speed up phasing out all nuclear power by 2022.

Mr. Keitel said the energy switchover in Europe’s biggest economy amounts to “open heart surgery” and requires “intense monitoring and professional management.”

He said the BDI group, which supports the switchover decision, is now launching a monitoring initiative enlisting two research institutes and a consultant to ensure a more timely and professional oversight of the mammoth project.

COMMERCE

Factory orders fell 0.6 percent in April

Companies placed fewer orders to U.S. factories for the second straight month and a key measure that tracks business investment plans fell, adding to evidence that the economy is weakening.

The Commerce Department said Monday that orders for factory goods fell 0.6 percent in April from March.

Demand for so-called core capital goods, such as heavy machinery and computers, dropped 2.1 percent in April. That followed a 2.3 percent decline in March.

Core capital goods are a good proxy for business investment plans. The declines suggest companies may be worried about a weaker U.S. job market, which could crimp consumer spending. They may also fear the worsening European debt crisis and slower growth in China that could slow demand for U.S. exports.

Even with the declines, factory orders are well above their recession lows. Orders in April totaled $465.98 billion, up 38.7 percent from the recession low reached in March 2009. Orders are still 3.1 percent below the peak reached in December 2007, the month the recession began.

On Friday, the government said U.S. employers added only 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year and the third straight of subpar hiring. The unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent last month.

OHIO

Court: Reinstate Ohio suit alleging Duke kickbacks

CINCINNATI — A federal appeals court on Monday ordered reinstatement of a lawsuit that accuses Duke Energy Corp. of paying kickbacks to big Cincinnati-area companies to win their support for a 2004 electricity rate increase.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed a federal judge’s 2009 decision and reinstated the 2008 antitrust lawsuit filed on behalf of some Ohio businesses and people whose bills rose.

The District Court judge had concluded that federal courts lacked jurisdiction over the case and that the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, which approved the rate increase, had exclusive jurisdiction over state-law claims.

The three-judge appeals panel, however, said in its unanimous ruling that the lower court was incorrect and that “no circumstances exist here that would deprive the District Court of jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ state-law claims.”

The lawsuit claims that, in 2004, the utility known then as Cinergy Corp. paid off large corporate customers who opposed to the rate increase request. The lawsuit alleges that the opposition ended after the companies signed rebate deals with Duke.

CALIFORNIA

Former Golden West CEO Sandler dies at 81

SAN FRANCISCO — Marion Sandler, a business executive who ran Golden West Financial Corp. with her husband for 40 years before selling the mortgage lender to Wachovia Corp. for $24 billion, has died. She was 81.

Mrs. Sandler’s family said she died Friday at her San Francisco home. A cause of death was not released.

Mrs. Sandler and her husband, Herb, bought Golden West in 1963 and grew it from a two-branch savings-and-loan business to a publicly-traded company with 11,000 employees and 285 branches. The Sandlers were hailed as the voices of reason while they steered Golden West and its subsidiary, World Savings, through a period of financial recklessness that led to the failure of thousands of other S&Ls in the 1980s and 1990s.

They sold the company at the height of the housing boom in 2006, but became vilified as ruthless home lenders after Wachovia declared bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis and was acquired by Wells Fargo & Co.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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