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Business/Economy

  • Stocks struggle higher despite weak housing news

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher Tuesday, overcoming earlier losses from weak reports on consumer confidence and home prices.

    Home Depot Inc. rose 2.7 percent, the most of the 30 large companies in the Dow Jones industrial average. The retailer said it would buy $1 billion of its own stock with cash from selling bonds.

    Stocks started lower after a report showed that home prices fell in 19 of the 20 large U.S. cities tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller index. Washington was the only city in which prices rose. Prices have fallen 3 percent in the past year.

  • Home prices falling in most major US cities

    NEW YORK (AP) — Home prices are falling in most major U.S. cities, and the average prices in four of them are at their lowest point in 11 years. Analysts expect further prices declines in most cities in the coming months.

    The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday shows price declines in 19 cities from December to January. Eleven of them are at their lowest level since the housing bust, in 2006 and 2007. The index fell for the sixth straight month.

    Home values in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Detroit and Cleveland are now below January 2000 levels.

    The only market where prices rose was Washington, where homes prices gained 0.1 percent month over month.

  • New Mexico job market remains stagnant

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal labor statistics show most states have seen positive job growth over the past year, but New Mexico and several others remain on the negative side of the curve when it comes to the job market.

    There haven't been any sizable layoffs in the past year by big employers in New Mexico, but business leaders say small businesses — from plumbing contractors and car dealerships to real estate companies and architectural firms — have been forced to lay off handfuls of workers, and those numbers are adding up.

  • Japan disaster set to be world's costliest

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast could reach $309 billion, making it the world's costliest natural disaster on record.

    The extensive damage to housing, roads, utilities and businesses across seven prefectures (states) has resulted in losses of between 16 trillion yen ($198 billion) and 25 trillion yen ($309 billion), according to a Cabinet Office estimate Wednesday. That could drag the economic growth rate down by 0.5 percent this year.

    The losses figure is considerably higher than other estimates. The World Bank on Monday said damage might reach $235 billion. Investment bank Goldman Sachs had estimated quake damage of as much as $200 billion.

  • Business Watch: Social Security looms for Baby Boomers

    Talk about a stampede: The first wave of Baby Boomers begins turning age 65 in 2011, which means they’ll soon be tapping Social Security retirement benefits, if they haven’t already. If you’re a Boomer and haven’t yet investigated how this program works, this may be a good time to learn the ropes.
    When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn up to four “credits” per year based on net income. In 2011, it takes $1,120 in income to earn one credit. You must accumulate at least 40 credits over your lifetime to qualify for a benefit; however, those who haven’t earned sufficient credits sometimes qualify based on their spouse’s work record.

  • General Motors lays off workers at NY plant due to Japan crisis

    DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. on Monday is halting some production and temporarily laying off workers at a Buffalo, N.Y., engine plant, another sign that Japan's disaster is affecting automakers around the globe.

    GM is suspending production of engines built at its Tonawanda plant for the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon compact pickups, which are assembled at a GM factory in Shreveport, La. GM shut down its Shreveport operation this week because of a shortage of parts from Japan.

    GM doesn't know when production will resume at either plant.

  • House accepts $5 billion state budget

    With adjournment looming, the Legislature is sending to Gov. Susana Martinez a critical proposal for balancing the state's $5 billion state budget.

    Lawmakers gave final approval late Thursday to a measure that saves nearly $111 million next year to help plug a budget gap. It requires state workers and educators to pay more into their pensions while government reduces its payroll contributions by a similar amount. The bill also will delay higher state payments to shore up the retirement fund for public school employees and college faculty.

  • Why inflation hurts more than it did 30 years ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation spooked the nation in the early 1980s. It surged and kept rising until it topped 13 percent.

    These days, inflation is much lower. Yet to many Americans, it feels worse now. And for a good reason: Their income has been even flatter than inflation.

    Back in the '80's, the money people made typically more than made up for high inflation. In 1981, banks would pay nearly 16 percent on a six-month CD. And workers typically got pay raises to match their higher living costs.

    No more.

  • Stocks rebound on drop in unemployment claims

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose Thursday, a day after suffering their worst losses in seven months.

    The government said first-time applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week to 385,000, a bigger fall than economists expected.

  • NM lawmakers OK 72% tax hike on businesses as unemployment fix

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lawmakers are sending Gov. Susana Martinez a proposal to shore up the state's unemployment compensation program by raising taxes on employers and cutting jobless benefits.

    If the governor signs the legislation, taxes on businesses will go up by $128 million next year.

    The Workforce Solutions Department projects the unemployment fund will run out of money by next March without any changes.