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Business update: Stocks extend gains

Mon., June 14, 2010, 11 a.m.

Stocks extended their climb to a third day today following signs that Europe’s economy might not be badly hurt by its debt crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 65 points in afternoon trading after being up by as much as 118. The Dow has risen 312 points in the past two days.

Moody’s downgrades Greece’s debt to junk status: Moody’s Investors Service today downgraded Greece’s government bond ratings into “junk” territory, citing the risks in the rescue package for the debt-ridden country from the Eurozone and International Monetary Fund. Moody’s cut the rating by four notches, to “Ba1” from “A3,” and also downgraded Greece’s short-term issuer rating to “Not-Prime” from “Prime.” The downgrades reflects concern that the country could fail to meet its obligations to cut its deficit and pay down its debt.

Doctors’ group wants more accuracy from insurers: One in five medical claims is processed inaccurately by commercial health insurers, often leaving physicians shortchanged, according to the nation’s largest doctor’s group. The American Medical Association released its third annual report card on insurers today. Medicare performed well in how quickly and accurately it paid doctors, the report said. Commercial insurers matched their payments to what they agreed to pay doctors about 80 percent of the time.

Starbucks: Free Wi-Fi at 6,700 US sites: Starbucks Corp. will begin offering unlimited free Wi-Fi at all of its company-operated U.S. locations next month, part of an ongoing effort to bring more customers in the door. The free wireless Internet will be available July 1 at about 6,700 locations. The coffee house, which recorded its first quarterly increase in customers in 13 quarters earlier this year, had previously offered two free hours of Web access each day to registered customers. After that, consumers at the Seattle chain were charged a small fee.

News Corp makes bets on journalism ventures: News Corp. is placing more bets on the future of electronic reading devices and the idea of charging readers for online content. Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate says it is buying Skiff LLC, a company started by magazine and newspaper publisher Hearst Corp. to create a technology platform for e-readers. News Corp. is also making an investment in Journalism Online LLC, which is developing technology to help publishers collect payments from readers for online material.

Papers in Europe weather crisis better than US: European newspapers are weathering the media crisis better than their U.S. counterparts, a report released today suggested. The report, by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, shows that while papers in Europe also have been affected by the fallout from the economic crisis, a decline in readership and advertising, and fierce competition from the Internet, they have generally been hit less hard than papers in the United States.


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