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Monday Afternoon Business Brief

April 21, 2014, 1:29 PM

Monday Afternoon Business Brief
  • Stocks are slightly higher today, getting a lift from an encouraging report on the U.S. economy. The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose for the third month in a row. The Dow is up about 30 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 index has gained five and the Nasdaq is up close to 20.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says a third of small businesses in the Superstorm Sandy disaster areas reported financial losses a year later. The bank polled businesses with fewer than 500 employees in New York City, New York's Hudson Valley, New Jersey and coastal Connecticut in sectors including manufacturing, retail, construction, real estate, leisure and hospitality. More than half said they covered storm-related expenses out of their own pockets.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has pleaded not guilty to federal safety violation charges stemming from a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prosecutors allege that PG&E knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline that eventually ruptured and sparked a fireball in a San Bruno neighborhood. Eight people were killed and dozens injured, while 38 were destroyed. PG&E say it doesn't believe any employee intentionally violated safety regulations.
  • Discovery Communications has agreed to sell the information website HowStuffWorks to Blucora Inc. for $45 million. That's far less than the $250 million Discovery paid for it in 2007. HowStuffWorks publishes articles and videos that explain everything from how chocolate eggs are made to whether carrots are good for your eyesight.
  • Hasbro is riding My Little Pony back to profitability. The company says a 21 percent increase in sales of girls' toys helped boost first quarter earnings to more than $32 million or 24 cents per share. Those earnings topped Wall Street estimates, but Hasbro's revenue was short of what analysts expected, with sales slipping in a games and preschool products.

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