Refineries to Reduce Emissions
Valero Energy, Tesoro and Sunoco will install nearly $1 billion in new pollution controls at 20 oil refineries and pay fines totaling $8.5 million in settlements with the federal government and seven states over alleged violations of clean-air laws. The refineries covered in the deals represent about 15 percent of the nation's refining capacity.
Gas Trader Pleads Guilty
A former natural gas trader for Reliant Energy pleaded guilty to charges that he manipulated the market by filing bogus reports of trades to a publisher of gas price indexes.
The trader, Alfred Futch, 41, admitted to filing false price reports to Inside FERC Gas Market Report. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.
OCC, Banks Sue Spitzer
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency filed a lawsuit to stop New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer's probe of mortgage-lending data from nationally chartered banks, saying he is exceeding his authority. The lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing Spitzer from obtaining lending data from J.P. Morgan Chase, HSBC Bank USA and Wells Fargo Bank, which the federal agency regulates. Separately, a group of banks, including J.P. Morgan and HSBC, asked a judge to block Spitzer from probing whether they charged blacks and other minorities excessive mortgage rates, saying he lacks legal authority to investigate their mortgage lending.
In January, the OCC issued a ruling asserting that it is the primary regulator of national banks, saying state agencies with concerns about predatory lending or other illegal behavior should bring them to the federal level. Spitzer's inquiry into mortgage lending began in April.
UAW Won't Reopen GM Contract
The United Auto Workers last night reiterated that it will not reopen its contract with General Motors, which expires in 2007, but said it will continue to discuss possible concessions that might be needed to improve the automaker's financial health. The union warned that it "would be a huge mistake for GM" to take unilateral action.
Last week, chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. partly blamed GM's first-quarter loss on higher health care costs. "We have no comment on any timelines or any specific proposals," said Chris Preuss, GM spokesman. "Rick Wagoner stated at the shareholders meeting that the health care issue is critical . . . and we've been in contact with and in discussions with the UAW."
BJ's Consents to Security Audits
BJ's Wholesale Club agreed to submit to outside security audits for 20 years and tighten protection of customer information to settle a government complaint over a massive theft of credit and debit card data. It did not admit wrongdoing in the tentative settlement. The Federal Trade Commission alleged the warehouse club did not encrypt data, kept customer records longer than necessary and failed to protect its computer networks.
Housing Starts Up Slightly
U.S. housing starts rose 0.2 percent in May, to an annual rate of 2.009 million housing units last month. Building permits, a sign of future construction, fell 4.6 percent in May to an annual rate of 2.05 million units. April's rate of 2.148 million was the highest in more than 30 years.
Jobless Claims Rose Last Week
New claims for unemployment benefits rose by 1,000 to 330,000 last week, the Labor Department said. Claims fell to an average of about 328,000 this year from 343,000 for all of last year.
Scrushy Deliberations Delayed
A juror in the fraud trial of fired HealthSouth chief executive Richard M. Scrushy called in sick, forcing a 16th day of deliberations to be postponed. The jury was scheduled to continue work today.
No Verdict for Tyco Jury
Jurors in the grand larceny trial of two former top executives of Tyco International finished a 10th day of deliberations without issuing verdicts. They are trying to decide whether L. Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco's former chief executive, and Mark H. Swartz, the former finance chief, accepted unauthorized pay and bonuses, among other charges.
Former Enron Executive Testifies
In his third day of testimony, former Enron executive Rex T. Shelby told jurors that neither he nor former chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling misled investors about the status of the company's Internet technology at an analysts' conference in early 2000. Shelby is one of five former Enron Broadband executives accused of exaggerating the unit's technical and financial prospects to fool investors and pump up the parent company's stock price.
Carriers Raise Fares by $10
United Airlines, Northwest Airlines and America West added $10 to fares that had been capped at $499 to match Delta's fares. Delta raised fares $10 on flights it code-shares with other carriers. Code shares are pacts between airlines that make it easier to book trips on multiple airlines.
Honda is redesigning its Civic Hybrid and raising the car's fuel economy to try to win U.S. sales from the Toyota Prius. Honda got an early lead in hybrid sales when its two-door Insight debuted in 1999, but in 2004, the revamped Prius outsold the Civic and Insight hybrids 2 to 1.
Compiled from staff and news service reports.