Dow ends up 43 as many investors overcome economic worries
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street ended its second straight winning week with a moderate advance Friday, overcoming concerns about consumer confidence and inflation.
After slumping early in the session in response to weak consumer confidence and a spike in oil prices, investors seemed to turn their attention to broader signs, including the week's generally satisfactory earnings reports, that suggested that government efforts to steady the economy appear to be working. That shift in focus sent stocks up late in the day.
Although the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in with its lowest reading since the early 1980s, Tom Lydon, president of Global Trends Investments in Newport Beach, Calif., said companies' first-quarter reports convinced investors that "overall, things aren't all that bad."
The consumer sentiment index fell to 62.6 for April from 69.5 a month earlier, reflecting Americans' concern about rising energy and food prices.
Oil prices up on word US ship fired on boats in Persian Gulf
NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices rose sharply Friday on news that a ship under contract to the U.S. Defense Department fired warning shots at two boats in the Persian Gulf. Retail gas prices as expected rose further into record territory, nearing $3.60 a gallon.
Crude prices rose on initial reports that a U.S. ship had fired on two Iranian boats; the news raised concerns that a conflict between U.S. and Iranian forces could cut oil supplies from the region. A Navy spokeswoman said the origin of the boats was unclear.
The news was enough to send light, sweet crude for June delivery up to $119.55 before the contract retreated to settle up $2.46 at $118.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The incident worried investors because at first it appeared to be the latest in a series of encounters between U.S. forces and Iranian boats in the Gulf. Early this month, the USS Typhoon fired a flare at an Iranian boat that came within about 200 yards of the ship. In January, several Iranian boats made what the Navy described as provocative moves near a U.S. ship in the Strait of Hormuz. And in December the USS Whidbey Island fired warning shots at a small Iranian boat officials said was rapidly approaching the ship.
Bush says rebates going out Monday will boost economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said tax rebates will start going out Monday, earlier than previously announced, and should help Americans cope with rising gasoline and food prices, as well as aid a slumping economy.
Democrats said they were glad the rebate checks were about to go out, but suggested that multinational oil companies were not among the businesses the stimulus package was originally designed to help.
Those first rebates will be directly deposited into people's bank accounts. The Internal Revenue Service had been saying direct deposits wouldn't start until next Friday. Bush said paper checks would begin going out on May 9, a week earlier than previously announced.
Bush's emphasis on fuel and food prices differed from other comments he's made since signing the economic stimulus legislation, intended to aid the economy by boosting overall consumer spending — which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.
US targets China, Russia, 7 other nations on copyrights
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration is accusing China, Russia and seven other nations of failing to protect American producers of movies, computer software and other copyrighted material from widespread piracy.
The administration on Friday placed the nine countries on a "priority watch list" that will subject them to extra scrutiny and could eventually lead to economic sanctions — if the administration decides to pursue complaints before the World Trade Organization.
In addition to China and Russia, the other seven countries targeted were Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela.
The administration named another 31 countries to a lower-level watch list, indicating it has concerns about copyright violations in those nations but they don't warrant the highest level of scrutiny.
Goodyear swings to profit in 1Q, revenue rises
CLEVELAND (AP) — Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said Friday that it swung to a profit in the first quarter by focusing on higher-priced tires and strong international markets. But the company says it will cut tire production in North America, where sales have been sluggish.
The results from Goodyear, the world's third-largest tiremaker and No. 1 in the U.S., beat Wall Street expectations and its shares rose 6 percent.
Goodyear said it earned $147 million, or 60 cents per share, in the quarter that ended March 31, compared with a loss of $174 million, or 96 cents per share, in the same period in 2007. Sales rose to $4.94 billion from $4.5 billion a year ago.
Excluding one-time charges, Goodyear earned 67 cents per share from continuing operations.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 47 cents per share. Such estimates usually exclude special items.
Daily News' Zuckerman submits $580 million bid for Newsday
NEW YORK (AP) — The owner of the New York Daily News offered $580 million to acquire Newsday from Tribune Co., matching a bid earlier in the week by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, The Associated Press was told.
A person familiar with the situation, but who declined to be identified because of the confidential nature of the offer, confirmed that real estate developer Mortimer Zuckerman offered $580 million to buy the Long Island daily late Friday.
The source said the deal involved a "significant amount of cash and other considerations," but would not provide further specifics.
Zuckerman's Daily News is the rival tabloid to Murdoch's New York Post.
Federal panel seeks clearer warnings on Lasik eye surgery
WASHINGTON (AP) — In fury and despair, patients harmed by Lasik eye surgery told federal health advisers Friday of severe eye pain, blurred vision and even a son's suicide. The advisers recommended that the government warn more clearly about the risks of the hugely popular operations.
About 700,000 Americans a year undergo the elective laser surgery. Like golf star and famed Lasik recipient Tiger Woods, they're hoping to throw away their glasses, just as the ads say.
And while the vast majority benefit — most see 20-20 or even better — about one in four people who seeks Lasik is not a good candidate. A small fraction, perhaps 1 percent or fewer, suffer serious, life-changing side effects: worse vision, severe dry eye, glare, inability to drive at night.
A decade after Lasik hit the market, there still are questions about just how often patients suffer bad outcomes from the $2,000-per-eye procedure.
Many states appear to be in recession
UNDATED — The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that's true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes.
The situation looks even worse for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states.
"Whether or not the national economy is in recession — a subject of ongoing debate — is almost beside the point for some states," said the report to be released Friday by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The weakening economy is hitting tax revenue in a number of ways: People's discretionary income is being gobbled up by higher food and fuel costs, while the tanking housing market means people are spending less on furniture and appliances associated with buying a house.
The situation is grim in Delaware, with a $69 million gap this year.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 42.91, or 0.33 percent, to 12,891.86, after falling more than 100 points earlier in the session. The Dow closed the week with a gain of less than 1 percent.
Broader stock indicators were mixed on the day. The S&P 500 index gained 9.02, or 0.65 percent, to 1,397.84, and rose 2.1 percent for the week.
Light, sweet crude for June delivery rose to $119.55 before the contract retreated to settle up $2.46 at $118.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other Nymex trading Friday, May gasoline futures rose 3.51 cents to settle at $3.0537 a gallon after earlier rising to a new trading record of $3.0815, and May heating oil futures rose 4.45 cents to settle at $3.3028 a gallon. May natural gas futures rose 17.3 cents to settle at $10.963 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude futures rose $2 to settle at $116.34 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.