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Tuesday Evening Business Brief

May 20, 2014, 6:37 PM

Tuesday Evening Business Brief
  • Worries about the health of America's retail sector and the willingness of consumers to spend have sent the stock market down today. Stocks that fell after disappointing earnings reports included Staples and Urban Outfitters. Investment strategist Kate Warne of Edward Jones says the dismal results may have some investors thinking that the weakness in the economy in the first three months of the year was due to more than severe winter weather.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests are hailing House passage today of a $12 billion-plus bill to shore up water projects around the country. They're calling it a job-creation bill. The legislation is being criticized by conservative and watchdog groups which argued that it was too expensive and said it will merely run up the federal debt.
  • Insurance companies, trade groups and regulators are gathering in Iowa to discuss the industry's major issues. As the three-day Global Insurance Symposium got underway in Des Moines, plans to regulate firms like banks and impose national or even international oversight are up for discussion. A big concern is increasing federal oversight that could impose banking-type regulations on insurers. The insurance industry in the U.S. is largely regulated on a state-by-state basis.
  • There has been another General Motors recall, bringing the total for this year to 29. GM announced four separate actions today affecting 2.4 million cars and trucks. While no fatalities were involved in the latest recalls, the problems were serious enough that GM has temporarily halted sales of the vehicles.
  • Petco says it is going to stop selling dog and cat treats made in China by the end of this year due to ongoing fears that the imported treats are making pets sick. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration haven't been able to figure out why pets are getting ill from the treats since the agency began receiving reports of illnesses in 2007. In an update last week, the FDA said it has received more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses and more than 1,000 reports of dog deaths after eating Chinese-made chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats.

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