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Business update: Judge blocks drilling moratorium

A federal judge in New Orleans today blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill. The White House said the administration would appeal. It had halted approval of any new permits for deepwater drilling and suspended drilling at 33 exploratory wells in the Gulf. Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium, arguing it was arbitrarily imposed.

BP shares fall to lowest point in 13 years: BP shares fell today to their lowest point in 13 years, as CEO Tony Hayward handed over control of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill response to managing director Bob Dudley. Stocks in BP traded as low as $4.95 in London, the weakest since February 1997. The shares closed 4.4 percent lower. Hayward is still overseeing the response to the spill but he is gradually transferring responsibility to Dudley, a 54-year-old American who lost out to Hayward for the CEO position three years ago.

White House releases ‘patient bill of rights’: President Barack Obama unveiled a package of consumer benefits today to build support for his health care overhaul within a divided nation and warned Republicans about trying to repeal his landmark law. “We’re not going back,” said a defiant president. Marking the first 90 days since the bill was signed, the White House rolled out new regulations that explain how several provisions of the law will be carried out, including a ban on insurers denying coverage to children in poor health.

May home sales dip as housing market struggles: The housing market may be on the verge of taking another plunge that could weaken the broader economic recovery. Sales of previously occupied homes dipped in May, even though buyers could receive government tax credits. And nearly a third of sales in May were from foreclosures or other distressed properties. That means home prices could soon be heading down after stabilizing over the past year.

Tentative consumer deal gives auto dealers a break: Senate Democrats negotiating a massive financial regultion bill have offered to exclude auto dealers from direct oversight by a new consumer protection bureau. Senate Democratic aides say auto dealers would still be covered by federal truth in lending rules that would have to conform to regulations adopted by the consumer agency.

Washington governor to travel to Asia in September: Gov. Chris Gregoire will lead a trade mission to Asia in September as part of an effort to increase the state’s exports. The Democratic governor will visit the World Expo in Shanghai, stop in other Chinese cities and visit Vietnam. The trip is part of an initiative announced Thursday that is intended to bring in $600 million in new export sales for state businesses. Gregoire says in addition to reaching out to potential trading partners, she is directing an additional $3 million be set aside to help companies that are seeking to export for the first time.


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