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Business update: Senate spared docs from Medicare cuts

The Senate today passed a bill to temporarily spare doctors from a scheduled 21 percent cut in Medicare payments. The measure would delay cuts for six months while lawmakers work on a more permanent solution. The bill now goes to the House, which won’t be able to take it up until next week. There is some urgency to approve the funding because the cuts were scheduled to take affect June 1 and lawmakers fear doctors will start turning away Medicare patients if their payments are cut.

Obama cites construction jobs: President Barack Obama focused attention today on construction jobs created by the federal stimulus law while acknowledging the grinding toll the slow-to-rebound economy has taken. Obama spoke in Ohio at a groundbreaking for the 10,000th road project paid for by stimulus money. A growing number of independent economic analyses suggest the $862 billion stimulus law has boosted jobs and kept people off the unemployment line, though exactly how many jobs is a matter of dispute.

xUnemployment falls in 37 states in May: A majority of states saw their unemployment rates drop in May. But the widespread declines were mainly because people gave up looking for work and were no longer counted. The unemployment rate fell in 37 states and the District of Columbia, the Labor Department said today. Six states had increases and seven experienced no change. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia saw a net increase in jobs. But that reflected national data showing a huge gain because of government hiring of temporary census workers.

Stocks climb for 4th day after rise in gold stocks: Stocks mostly ticked higher today after another rise in gold prices lifted shares of minerals companies. The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 15 points in afternoon trading after posting its first three-day gain since April. Broader indexes were mixed. Gold prices extended their climb after settling at record on Thursday. That lifted shares of mining companies like Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp. The stocks rose about 3 percent.

xUSDA touts tighter meat industry antitrust rules: The Obama administration today proposed new antitrust rules for meat companies that reflect a willingness by the USDA to shift the balance of power between farmers and processors and to regulate an industry long dominated by a handful of corporate giants. The rules would place the sharpest limits on meat companies since the Great Depression, drastically lowering the bar that farmers and ranchers must meet to sue companies whom they accuse of demanding unfairly low prices.

Motricity shares slip after IPO prices low: Shares of mobile data services company Motricity are slipping after its scaled-back initial public offering priced low. The IPO raised $50 million, while a simultaneous sale of 1 million shares to billionaire investor Carl Icahn raised $9.3 million. Motricity Inc., based in Bellevue, Wash. had hoped for its IPO to raise about $102 million, but cut the number of shares it was offering to the public.


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