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Friday Afternoon Business Brief

February 21, 2014, 1:24 PM

Friday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are slightly higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is going for its third straight week of gains. Online travel booking company Priceline.com is higher on strong earnings. Groupon shares plunged after the online deals company said it expects to post a loss this quarter and issued a weak outlook for the year.

  • Railroads that haul volatile shipments of crude oil have reached an agreement with U.S. transportation officials to adopt wide-ranging voluntary safety measures, after a string of explosive and deadly accidents. It calls for railroads to slow down oil trains through major cities, increase track inspections and bolster emergency response planning along the routes. A copy of the agreement between the U.S. Transportation Department and the railroads was obtained by The Associated Press.
  • Federal officials say many farmers caught in California's drought will receive no irrigation water this year from a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs interlacing the state. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says it will continue to monitor rain and snowfall, but at this point there's not enough water in the Central Valley Project to give water to farmers. Last year, Central Valley farmers received 20 percent of their normal allowance, and that figure is now set at zero.
  • Detroit's emergency financial manager has filed a plan to bring the city out of bankruptcy. It aims to pour money into the city's aging infrastructure and clean up the city's blighted neighborhoods by demolishing decrepit homes. Retirees would see cuts to benefits and some Wall Street creditors would see just a fraction of what they're owed. The plan still needs approval from a bankruptcy judge and will likely be subject to numerous appeals and challenges in the months to come.
  • The deadline for Bernard Madoff's victims to sign up for a relief fund has been extended. The previous deadline for petitions to the Madoff Victim Fund was Feb. 28. It is now April 30. The fund will distribute assets forfeited in the Madoff case. It's separate from a bankruptcy court proceeding that has recovered money to redistribute to burned Madoff clients. So far, the victim fund has received more than 9,000 claims

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