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March 29, 2013 01:43 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief

A survey finds Americans' view of the economy improving at the end of the month, as lower unemployment and healthy job gains make tax increases less of a burden. The University of Michigan final consumer sentiment index rose to 78.6 in March. That's up from a preliminary reading of 71.8 and February's 77.8 reading. A year ago, the index stood at 76.2.

  • Americans have been earning more, and they haven't been shy about spending it. The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.7 percent in February, helped by a stronger job market that has offset some of the drag from higher taxes. The gain is the biggest in five months. Income, meanwhile, rose 1.1 percent.
  • The Labor Department reports unemployment rates fell in 22 states in February from the month before. Rates rose in 12 states and were unchanged in 16. States hit hardest during the recession are showing improvement. Nevada's rate is down 11.8 percent from a year ago to 9.6 percent. That still ties it with California and Mississippi for the highest among states.
  • UPS has agreed to pay $40 million to end a federal criminal probe connected to its work for online pharmacies. The Justice Department says the shipping company will also "take steps" to block illicit online drug dealers from using their delivery service. Justice says UPS won't be charged with any crimes. The fine amount is the money UPS collected from suspect online pharmacies.
  • A senior portfolio manager for one of the nation's largest hedge funds has been arrested in New York City on insider trading charges. Michael Steinberg is accused of joining an insider trading conspiracy that the government says made more than $6 million illegally for the powerhouse investment company founded by billionaire businessman Steven A. Cohen. Steinberg pleaded not guilty today and was released on $3 million bail.
  • Business
  • Economy/Stocks

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