NEW YORK – The dollar jumped to a two-year high against the yen Wednesday as a new government prepares to assume leadership in Japan.
Incoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed the Bank of Japan to lower interest rates further to help the economy. That could weaken the yen.
The dollar rose to 85.63 Japanese yen in late trading Wednesday from 84.78 Japanese yen late Tuesday. The dollar rose as high as 85.72 Japanese yen earlier, its highest point against the yen since Sept. 21, 2010.
The dollar was mixed against most other major currencies in light holiday trading. U.S. stock markets reopened Wednesday after being closed Tuesday for Christmas. European markets remained closed Wednesday.
Asian markets rise amid Japan outlook
BEIJING – Asian markets have risen amid optimism that Japan’s new leaders will stimulate its sluggish economy.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.3 percent today to 10,368.5, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.6 percent to 22,677.7. Shanghai and Taipei both added 0.2 percent.
In Japan, investors are expecting incoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to take new measures to boost economic growth.
Chicago’s metered parking rates rise
CHICAGO – Chicago soon will have the nation’s most expensive downtown parking meters.
On New Year’s Day, meters in the city’s downtown Loop area will begin charging $6.50 an hour – up from $5.75 – in February.
Former Mayor Richard Daley got the City Council to approve the company’s 75-year contract in 2008. In return, the city got a $1.1 billion payment – much of which has already been spent.
Current Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered an independent audit of the deal, which is now largely viewed as a financial disaster.
Berkshire says it sold two railroads
OMAHA, Neb. – Warren Buffett’s company says it sold two short-line railroads it recently discovered it owned to satisfy regulators who might have reviewed Berkshire Hathaway’s 2010 acquisition of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.
Berkshire told the Transportation Department’s Surface Transportation Board earlier this month that it had recently completed the sale of both short-line railroads ahead of schedule.
If Berkshire had reported owning those railroads when it bought BNSF, the Surface Transportation Board would have had to scrutinize the deal.
Berkshire sold the 12-mile-long WCTU railroad that serves an industrial park near Medford, Ore., to RVTR Rail Holdings in December.
The 6-mile-long CBEC railroad that serves one of MidAmerican Energy’s coal plants was sold to its two other co-owners in November.