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Biz wire

Daily Staff Report

Around the business worldRising energy prices help send consumer prices up 0.4 percent in March: WASHINGTON – Consumer prices shot up by a bigger-than-expected amount in March, reflecting higher costs for gasoline, clothing and hotel rooms. The Labor Department reported that its closely watched Consumer Price Index rose by 0.4 percent, far higher than the modest 0.1 percent gain in February. The inflation surge was led by higher gasoline prices, which jumped by 3.6 percent.Oil prices retreat from new highs: WASHINGTON – Oil prices retreated from record highs on the expectation that a U.S. fuel supply report due out later in the day will show gains in crude stocks. However, oil futures continued to hover just under $71 a barrel amid ongoing concern about rising tension between Iran and the international community.Wall Street waffles on consumer price data: NEW YORK – Stocks fluctuated Wednesday as an upswing in consumer prices dampened investors’ celebration over signals that the Federal Reserve may be done hiking interest rates. Wall Street was trying to extend its rally from Tuesday, when stocks surged after minutes from the latest Fed meeting indicated policymakers felt they may have raised interest rates high enough to ward off inflation.Skilling testimony remains heated: HOUSTON – Former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling remained prickly in his seventh day on the witness stand in his fraud and conspiracy trial Wednesday when repeatedly challenged about whether the energy giant was a risky trading company or a stable deliverer of commodities. The ex-CEO sought to give detailed, complicated denials when asked if he deliberately downplayed Enron’s risky trading practices to investors. But a prosecutor continually cut him off, seeking “yes” or “no” answers.CEO pay rises more slowly: NEW YORK – More companies are listening to investors’ criticism that they overpay chief executives, but that doesn’t mean businesses have fixed the problem. CEO pay continued to climb in 2005, although not nearly as rapidly as in recent years, new surveys show. But the size of the typical CEO’s raise varied greatly by which companies were counted, and overall figures obscure wide variations in pay. A closer look at individual companies show that more than one in four granted their CEOs raises of at least 25 percent, according to a survey of nearly 200 large firms.Vail, Colorado


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