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Monday Afternoon Business Brief

March 3, 2014, 1:47 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief

Global stock markets have been down sharply today, and the U.S. indexes are no exception. Tensions over Russia's military advance into Ukraine and the threat of sanctions by Western governments have sent investors heading for safer assets, such as gold and bonds. The Dow has been down as much as 250 points. It's off its lows for the day, but remains off more than 150 points. The S&P 500 has been about 15 to 20 points lower, while the Nasdaq was off 35-40 points.

  • U.S. construction spending showed a tiny increase in January. The Commerce Department says construction spending edged up 0.1 percent in January, as strength in housing helped to offset declines in nonresidential building and government projects.
  • Warren Buffett sees steady improvement in the economy and remains optimistic about what's ahead. In an interview with CNBC, Buffett said the reports he gets from Berkshire's 80-odd subsidiaries in a variety of industries show that the economy is growing at a moderate rate, despite swings in investors' mood. But, Buffett adds that he doesn't make investment decisions based on the economy or world events. He said he focuses on the prospects of the business in which he's investing, and the price.
  • North Carolina regulators have cited five more Duke Energy power plants for lacking required storm water permits. The violation notices come a month after a pipe collapsed at one of the company's coal ash dumps causing a massive spill that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. Two other violations were issued Friday against the Dan River Steam Station, the site of the Feb. 2 spill.
  • Citigroup and its affiliate Banamex USA have received grand jury subpoenas concerning compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering requirements under federal laws and banking regulations. Citi says it is cooperating fully with the inquiries. On Friday, Citi announced that it lowered its 2013 earnings by $235 million, saying it was a victim of fraud committed by a Mexican oil services company.

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