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Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

April 1, 2014, 2:00 PM

Tuesday Afternoon Business Brief

Some positive economic reports are boosting the stock market today. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose in March, while the Commerce Department says construction spending edged higher in February, despite rough winter weather. Seven of the ten sectors in the S&P 500 are up, with the index nine points ahead overall. The Dow has backed off its high of the day, but remains up about 60 points, while the Nasdaq composite has gained more than 50.

  • Lawmakers are demanding answers from GM's new CEO and the head of the nation's auto safety watchdog about a defect linked to 13 deaths. In written testimony, acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Friedman says GM had information connecting defective ignition switches to the non-deployment of air bags, but didn't share it until last month. In her prepared testimony, GM CEO Mary Barra says she can't explain why it took years for the defect to be announced but vows to find out.
  • Automakers are reporting that U.S. sales of new cars and trucks started to accelerate halfway through March. Chrysler says its domestic sales jumped 13 percent, helped by strong demand for the new Jeep Cherokee and the Ram pickup. Subaru's sales were up 21 percent as sales of its new Forester SUV soared. Nissan's sales were up 8 percent. Ford's rose 3 percent. And Toyota says sales rose 5 percent. Sales fell for Volkswagen and Hyundai.
  • Greece is planning to tap bond markets for the first time since its financial crisis left it dependent on international bailouts. The country's finance minister made the announcement hours after fellow eurozone countries agreed to release long-delayed rescue loans. Greece last issued long-term debt in April 2010. Its 10-year bonds later became unaffordable, with investors asking for 30 percent interest. That rate has since fallen to about 6.5 percent after the country improved its finances.
  • A court has awarded Carnegie Mellon University $1.54 billion in a patent dispute with chip maker Marvell Technology. The judge ruled that Carnegie Mellon is entitled to interest and royalty payments on sales of chips Marvell made for computer hard drives. But Marvell says she rejected the university's request for an injunction to stop Marvell from selling the chips. The award is less than the university sought, and Marvell's shares have risen as a result.

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