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Tuesday Evening Business Brief

March 18, 2014, 6:16 PM

Tuesday Evening Business Brief
  • Encouraging news on housing has helped the stock market build on yesterday's gains. The Commerce Department said today that while home construction slipped 0.2 percent in February, applications for permits to build homes rose a solid 7.7 percent. The S&P 500 rose 13 points to close at 1,872. The Dow added 89 points to 16,336. And, the Nasdaq composite had the biggest gain, climbing 53 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,333.
  • The nation's four biggest banks have slashed enough homeowner debt to satisfy their obligations under a national mortgage settlement. The settlement was prompted by disclosures about robo-signing, in which companies processed foreclosures without verifying documents. The monitor overseeing the settlement says Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo have provided some $50 billion in relief to more than 600,000 borrowers.
  • New York's attorney general has begun investigating split-second stock trading by high-frequency traders and is asking the exchanges to end the practice. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman calls such trades "unfair." He says millisecond timing advantages gained by things such as extra computer bandwidth and ultra-fast cables allow high-frequency traders to make "rapid and often risk-free trades before the rest of the market can catch up."
  • Global music revenues fell 3.9 percent last year. A sharp drop in compact disc sales in Japan, which accounts for more than a fifth of worldwide sales, pulled revenues down to $15 billion. On the plus side, the growing popularity of free and paid streaming music services such as Pandora and Spotify are helping offset the decline of CD sales. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry says digital revenue grew 4.3 percent to $5.9 billion in 2013.
  • Google has released a new version of its Android software tailored for Internet-connected watches and other devices that can be worn instead of held. Google says Android watches are being developed by some of the device makers that sell Android smartphones, including Asus, HTC, LG Electronics, Motorola and Samsung. Samsung already sells a smartwatch running on another operating system.

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