Business

Business update: Stocks see broad gains

Industrial and technology stocks pulled the market sharply higher today after Boeing Co. said it was boosting production and an industry group forecast that demand for computers would increase. The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 150 points in afternoon trading. The Dow and other major stock indexes rose more than 1.5 percent.

Congress grills oil execs on prep for major spill: Members of Congress chastised the largest oil companies today, accusing them of being no better prepared than BP to avert an environmental catastrophe. As the oil executives testified at a House hearing, Rep. Henry Waxman asserted that the companies’ spill response plans amounted to “paper exercises” that mirrored BP’s failed plan. Their strategies to plug a spill deep beneath the sea are the same failed strategies that have stymied BP, the California Democrat said. The other companies “are no better prepared to deal with a major oil spill than was BP,” said Waxman, setting the tone for a tense hearing.

Greece settles debt to solve hospital crisis: The government of debt-ridden Greece said today it had struck a preliminary deal to pay off billions owed to drug and medical suppliers, ending a standoff that caused severe shortages at state hospitals and forced operations to be suspended. Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said a meeting with suppliers “led to an agreement in principle” regarding payment of euro5.7 billion ($7 billion) in debts accrued since 2005. He said he expected companies to resume suspended supplies immediately.

DirecTV to sell local ads for the first time: DirecTV is joining forces with a firm owned by its cable rivals to sell local advertising spots coast-to-coast for the first time. The nation’s largest satellite TV company today unveiled a partnership with NCC Media, an advertising sales firm owned by cable companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox. Previously, DirecTV could sell only national ads before satellite TV streams the same commercial to every market. But with new software, DirecTV can air different commercials in different cities.

Best Buy shoppers spend less than expected for quarter: Best Buy shoppers spent less than expected this spring, contributing to a rocky first quarter for the chain and disappointing Wall Street, but executives said the weak results don’t mean Americans have less of an appetite for electronics. The company’s profit edged up 1 percent but fell far short of what analysts were expecting. Best Buy stock tumbled 6 percent.

Homebuilders less confident in recovery: Homebuilders are feeling less confident in the recovery now that government incentives for buyers have expired. Their pessimism could drag on the economy, which may not benefit so much from the job creation that construction typically generates throughout various sectors. The National Association of Home Builders said today its housing market index fell to 17 in June, sinking five points after two straight months of increases. It was the lowest level since March.



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