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News In Brief

MID-DAY UPDATE: Trade gap narrows, budget details released

Katharine Crnko Apr 12, 2011

Here are today’s top stories from the Marketplace Morning Report and from around the web.

The U.S. sold fewer items overseas, but the government said the nation’s trade deficit narrowed in February anyway. That’s because oil imports were down for the month. Here is Marketplace’s coverage.

Remember the $38 billion in cuts for the rest of this fiscal year? The cuts that lawmakers agreed to in order to avoid a government shutdown last Friday? Well, last night we finally got the details of what’s being cut. They include: $414 million in grants to state and local police departments, $1.6 billion in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, and $504 million in food assistance to poor mothers and their babies. But most of the cuts are being described as phantom savings and accounting tricks. You can read Marketplace’s coverage here.

President Obama tomorrow will outline his vision of federal budgets to come and today we’re learning that vision reportedly includes raising taxes on wealthy Americans. Check out Marketplace’s interview with David Cay Johnston.

Top U.S. futures regulator Gary Gensler made good on his promise to spare energy companies, airlines and others from paying billions of dollars in regulatory oversight. The news is a boost for companies like Constellation Energy, MillerCoors and Caterpillar — all of which use swaps to manage risk.

Aluminum maker Alcoa kicked off corporate earnings season yesterday with a quarterly profit thanks to higher aluminum prices.

Wheat futures are again at near $8 a bushel — because of dry weather in the lower plains. And flooding in the Dakotas.

At Chicago’s Little Village Academy, kids can’t brown bag it at lunchtime. The school’s principal says the lunchroom provides healthier food. She says most of the time, students just bring junk food from home. But some parents are outraged. They say nutritionists don’t exactly give public school lunches the healthiest seal of approval. I mean, what’s the nutritional value of a Sloppy Joe anyway?

And as you head out to get your Dasani or Evian today, consider this fact from Charles Fishman’s book: Americans spend about $21 billion a year on bottled water. That’s almost as much as we spend to maintain our entire drinking water system. There are a whole bunch more water facts at our Big Book Blog.

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