Business Highlights

The Associated Press
Friday, March 18, 2011; 6:01 PM

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Investors cheer dividend increases at large banks

NEW YORK (AP) - Bank shareholders got a long-awaited gift from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Friday when the central bank cleared the way for major lenders to increase their dividends.

It was the last hurdle left on the path to recovery for banks and signified a return to health for the industry. Banks were forced to cut their dividends to preserve cash after the financial crisis that peaked in September 2008, when the industry was propped up by a U.S. government bailout package totaling $700 billion.

Banks that received clearance to raise their dividends wasted little time in doing so. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it would increase its quarterly dividend to 25 cents a share from 5 cents. Wells Fargo & Co. raised its dividend to 12 cents, while U.S. Bancorp increased its dividend to 12.5 cents a share.


Yen rise curbed after G-7 pledges to support Japan

TOKYO (AP) - The yen backed away from historic highs and Japanese shares rose Friday after the Group of Seven major industrialized nations promised coordinated intervention in currency markets to support Japan's recovery from a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

The G-7 pledge came a day after the yen soared to an all-time high against the dollar, possibly threatening Japan's exports and hampering its economic recovery from the March 11 quake that triggered an unfolding nuclear crisis.


NY Fed confirms intervention in currency markets

WASHINGTON (AP) - The New York Federal Reserve Bank confirmed that it intervened in currency markets on Friday for the first time in more than a decade.

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