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April 10, 2014 01:46 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

A plunge in biotechnology shares is leading a sell-off in the stock market this afternoon. The Nasdaq composite has been taking the biggest hit, down more than 2 and a-half percent. The Dow has been down as much as 200 points, while the S&P 500 was more than 25 points lower.

  • The federal government's budget deficit continues to shrink. The Treasury Department says a 16 percent increase in revenue helped keep the deficit to $37 billion in March. That compares with $107 billion in March of last year. Individual income and Social Security taxes have increased as employers have steadily hired more workers in the past year.
  • The head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the agency is taking steps to improve handling of classified national security information. Cheryl LaFleur tells the Senate Energy Committee Thursday that employees are "wiping and scrubbing all databases," following a report that officials improperly allowed widespread access to a document that outlined specific physical threats to the nation's electric grid.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in an attack nearly a year ago on phone lines and the power grid in Silicon Valley. The attack involved someone shooting at AT&T fiber-optic lines to knock out phone and 911 service and into a PG&E substation, where 17 transformers were knocked out. PG&E has said it plans to install opaque walls and deploy advanced camera systems, enhanced lighting and additional alarms at the San Jose substation and other sites.
  • Mortgages are edging lower. Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.34 percent last week, while the average for a 15-year mortgage eased to 3.38 percent. Rates are about one percentage point higher than the hitting record lows about a year ago.
  • Business
  • Economy/Stocks