Mid-day Update: More on Japan, goodbye Zune
On today’s show, Marketplace continued to follow the effects of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Japanese government is monitoring the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant after several explosions and fires there. The government has expanded the evacuation zone around the plant to protect citizens from potentially toxic radiation. Japanese citizens in Tokyo await news as to whether they will be affected by potential radiation, while international citizens are evacuating and relocating further south. Citizens in the U.S. are also afraid of radiation exposure. Many people are turning to potassium iodide pills, which are known to block out radioactive iodine 131 — but the run on the iodide market has made the tablets scarce.
Oil prices continue to drop. Around $96 a barrel right now in New York trading. The price of oil may be falling, as a result of the events in Japan, but gas prices are hitting new highs. Hawaii has become the first state with a gas price average of more than $4 a gallon.
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Microsoft is pulling the plug on its Zune music player, the computer giant’s mp3 answer to the iPod. Bloomberg reports Microsoft won’t release any more models. As one blogger put it, when you’re very late to the party, not too many people notice your arrival.
Here are some more of today’s headlines from around the web.
- The [Federal Reserve meets today]() in Washington for more discussions on whether to alter the Fed’s $600 billion bond buying program.
- U.S. import prices rose for the fifth consecutive month in February as political turmoil in the Middle East [helped pushed oil prices higher](), a U.S. Labor Department report showed on Tuesday.
- The pessimistic outlook for home builders has [improved slightly for March](), but remains at low levels as home prices fall and new construction is sluggish.
- Federal aviation regulators today said they were prepared to take action — [including rerouting flights away from Japan]() — if the nuclear crisis there worsens.
- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner today [vowed to hold banks accountable]() for any improper actions they may have taken while processing paperwork for home owners facing foreclosure.
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