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Thursday Evening Business Brief

April 17, 2014, 6:44 PM

Thursday Evening Business Brief

Stocks are mostly higher on Wall Street as upbeat earnings news from several big U.S. companies encouraged investors. The S&P 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 1,864. A drop in IBM's stock pulled the Dow Jones industrial average lower. The Dow fell 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,408. The Nasdaq rose nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,095.

  • Despite ample supplies of crude in the U.S., worries over the upheaval in Ukraine are pushing the price of oil higher. It rose past $104 per barrel today. Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery climbed 54 cents to close at $104.30 a barrel in New York. Meanwhile, the average retail price of gasoline rose less than a penny today to $3.66 per gallon, the highest level since July.
     
  • Nutritional supplements and weight-loss products maker Herbalife is being investigated by the attorney general of Illinois because of consumer complaints. The company says it's confident in the integrity of its business and its compliance with the law. Herbalife said in March it was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for possible "deceptive practices."
     
  • U.S. regulators have again approved a Merck tablet for gradually reducing seasonal allergies, this time for ragweed pollen. Ragwitek is approved for patients aged 18 through 65. Merck's tablet for spring grass allergies, Grastek, was approved Monday for patients aged 5 to 65. Ragwitek and Grastek should be available in pharmacies by April 30.
     
  • Major record labels are suing Internet radio giant Pandora for copyright infringement for using songs recorded before 1972 without paying license fees. The labels argue that songs such as Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and the Beatles' "Hey Jude" are not covered by federal copyright law, but have been protected in common law by states including New York. The labels say artists and labels have been deprived of tens of millions of dollars every year by services such as Pandora Media.

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