- - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WALL STREET

Stocks closed lower after the Federal Reserve’s economic update failed to give investors much to get excited about.

The Fed said it will continue its effort to keep long-term interest rates low. Investors liked that. But the Fed also said it’s seeing high unemployment and a depressed housing market.

Consumer products maker Procter & Gamble Co. said demand is slowing. Sales of its products, which include Tide detergent and Duracell batteries, are a good window into the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 13 points at 12,824 Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell two points to close at 1,356. The Nasdaq gained a fraction of a point to close at 2,930.

EUROPE

Spain finance minister: No international bailout needed

MADRID — Spain’s finance minister insisted again Wednesday that the country does not need a full-blown bailout, even as the country’s sky-high borrowing costs remained at dangerous levels.

The interest rate, or yield, on the Spanish benchmark 10-year bond fell 22 basis points to 6.78 percent, below the 7 percent level it has been hovering above since Monday. But Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said Spain “does not need to be rescued.”

INTERNET

Yahoo, Liquid set to publish motion comics

PHILADELPHIA — Yahoo said Wednesday it is expanding its original offerings, partnering with Liquid Comics to offer motion-comics.

The two companies said they’ll make the first two titles - created by film directors Barry Sonnenfeld and Guy Ritchie - available online later this summer through Yahoo Screen.

Motion comics blend elements of comic book art and animation.

COURTS

Suit: Hebrew National products not kosher

NEW YORK — The maker of Hebrew National is standing by the kosher status of its hot dogs and other meats. ConAgra Foods Inc. says a lawsuit that claims its products aren’t really kosher is without merit.

The suit claims that ConAgra, based in Omaha, Neb., charges premium prices for Hebrew National meats, which it says aren’t really 100 percent kosher. For example, the suit says that employees at a third-party kosher certifier for ConAgra complained of witnessing non-kosher procedures at meat plants.

In order for meat to be considered kosher, the animal the meat came from must be healthy and clean. The lawsuit says the animals used to make Hebrew National products do not meet those standards.

AUTOS

Lexus tops quality study as auto industry improves

DETROIT — Lexus makes the best-quality cars in the U.S., and automakers overall are much better at eliminating problems that land vehicles in the repair shop, according to a new survey of car owners.

Toyota’s luxury brand had the fewest problems per 100 vehicles in a survey of 2012 models by research firm J.D. Power and Associates. The brand was followed by two other luxury carmakers, Jaguar and Porsche, which tied for second place. Cadillac and Honda rounded out the top five.

Cars and trucks sold in the U.S. had the highest quality since J.D. Power started doing the study in 1987. Still, quality was hurt by widespread glitches in technology such as touch-screen controls and voice-recognition software.

FRANCHISES

Starbucks to open its first Tazo tea shop

NEW YORK — Starbucks Corp. is planning to open its first Tazo tea shop this fall, in yet another move to expand beyond its ubiquitous coffee shops.

The Seattle-based cafe chain says the store will open near its headquarters and will include a tea bar where customers can blend their own tea mixes with the help of a store worker the company is calling a “tea partner.”

The store will offer more than 80 varieties of loose-leaf tea, tea lattes and iced teas.

TECHNOLOGY

Struggling BlackBerry maker begins job cuts

TORONTO — Struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion says it has started laying off employees as part of a restructuring plan aimed at saving about $1 billion this year.

RIM said in May that there would be “significant layoffs” this year. On Wednesday, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it has “reduced some positions as part of its program and may continue to do so as the company methodically works through a review of the business.”

RIM declined to provide numbers, but will offer an update when it reports earnings June 28. RIM had about 16,500 employees in early May. The company cut 2,000 jobs in July.

The once iconic BlackBerry company is preparing to launch new software later this year, just as Americans are abandoning BlackBerrys for iPhones and Android phones.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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