Leading indicators slip, jobless claims rise
WASHINGTON – A barometer of America’s economic activity slipped in April, while the number of people signing up for jobless benefits rose sharply last week. The big jump in filings for jobless benefits was mainly due to the lingering effects of a partial government shutdown in Puerto Rico. But the dip in the Conference Board’s Index of Leading Indicators more clearly pointed to slowing economic activity ahead.Oil prices retreat: NEW YORK – Oil prices extend their recent losses in a selloff triggered by rising gasoline supplies in the U.S. and signs that high oil prices have weakened demand.Sears Holdings turns a first-quarter profit, but can it sustain growth: CHICAGO – Cost-cutting helped Sears Holdings Corp. post a profit in the first quarter versus a loss a year ago. But same-store sales slipped at the nation’s third largest retailer, leaving analysts wondering if slashing costs alone would be enough to help the company stay profitable.Gas industry foresees looming crunch: WASHINGTON – With the price of natural gas at its lowest level in nearly a year, the industry that supplies this mostly domestic fuel has a message to consumers: don’t get used to it. Following a warm winter that sapped home-heating demand, U.S. natural-gas inventories are bulging, causing prices to plummet roughly 60 percent since mid-December. But the Natural Gas Supply Association warns there is no guarantee that the nation’s supply cushion will look so comfortable by the end of summer.Jury begins deliberations in Enron trial: HOUSTON – Jurors resumed deliberations in the trial of two former Enron Corp. chiefs accused of misleading investors about the energy titan’s health before it crumbled into bankruptcy in one of the biggest financial scandals ever. It is the jury’s first full day of talk.Apple’s retail strategy paying off: NEW YORK – When Apple Computer Inc. opens the doors of its newest gem of a store in New York on the same shopping strip as Prada, Tiffany & Co. and Saks Fifth Avenue, it’ll mark five years of a doggedly distinctive style in the electronics retail world that not only reinforces the company’s brand cachet but also pays off handsomely financially.Approval sought for vaccine for cervical cancer: WASHINGTON – FDA advisers are weighing approval of a vaccine that blocks viruses blamed for most cervical cancer. The maker says it could cut cervical cancer deaths by more than two-thirds.Offshore drilling could be expanded despite coastal worries: WASHINGTON – The House moved toward an expected close vote on ending a quarter-century ban on offshore drilling for natural gas. After record winter heating bills, sponsors say new supplies are needed to lower prices and keep manufacturers from moving overseas, but coastal lawmakers warn of environmental damage and tourism losses.Sony unveils new digital projector: LOS ANGELES – After more than a decade of discussion, movie theaters and studios are finally rolling out digital projectors that show sharper, brighter images without cracks, pops or hisses. Hundreds of the new projectors are expected to be in place by the end of the year.Vail, Colorado
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