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Monday Afternoon Business Brief

March 31, 2014, 1:28 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief

Stocks are higher as the market heads for a fifth straight quarterly gain. The S&P 500 was up nearly 15 points in afternoon trading, while the Dow was up 135 and the Nasdaq 45. Traders have been encouraged by remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who says she thinks the U.S. job market should continue to be supported by low interest rates for some time.

  • The government's health insurance website has been hit by some technical problems today amid a rush of people trying to beat the deadline to sign up for coverage. The Obama administration says the latest glitch was preventing last-minute users from creating new accounts, but that's been resolved. The Obama administration and the states appear to be on track to sign-up about 6.5 million people for subsidized private health insurance through the new online markets
  • The Supreme Court has been hearing a case about whether it's too easy for high-tech companies to patent inventions that are not really new. The justices today appeared to struggle to come up with a middle ground that would recognize true inventions as opposed to those that simply take an old idea and blend it with computer wizardry. The issue has divided the nation's technology giants, with some saying new restrictions could nullify thousands of existing patents and others saying free flowing patents can block innovation.
  • Apple and Samsung are back in court today accusing each other of ripping off designs and features. The trial in Silicon Valley marks the latest in a series of lawsuits between the two tech giants that underscore the larger concern about what is allowed to be patented. The case is being tried less than two years after a federal jury found Samsung was infringing on Apple patents and ordered the company to pay about $900 million. This time Apple is accusing Samsung of infringing on five patents on newer devices.
  • New York's attorney general says FedEx Corp. has cost the state more than $10 million by unlawfully shipping contraband cigarettes to consumers. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made the allegation today as he announced that New York is joining a federal lawsuit that New York City officials have brought against the high-speed mail carrier. It alleges FedEx made nearly 33,000 illegal shipments of cigarettes to consumers in New York state between 2006 and 2012.

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