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News In Brief

PODCAST: Murdoch testifies, cupcake tensions rise

Katharine Crnko Jul 19, 2011

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

U.S. housing starts rose more than expected in June to touch a six-month high and permits for future construction unexpectedly increased, a government report showed on Tuesday, likely reflecting growing demand for rental apartments.

Rupert Murdoch’s testimony has begun in the British Parliament. The head of News Corporation is testifying with his son James as part of an investigation into wrongdoing at his former tabloid News of the World.

Stocks are up in overseas trading this morning after a strong earnings report from IBM. The 100-year-old company said earnings increased 8 percent last quarter.

Also up this morning? The price of gold. It’s selling for more than $1,600 an ounce. That’s a record, though it’s well below the all time high when you adjust for inflation.

Book chain Borders is expected to start liquidating today. The company was supposed to be auctioned off, but no buyers stepped forward. Borders could be in the history section by the end of September.

Bank of America just reported an $8.8 billion loss for the last quarter. That’s mostly due to a settlement the bank had to pay investors who say BofA misled them into buying bad mortgages. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs says its profits jumped 77 percent. But that fell short of expectations because of a drop off in trading. And Wells Fargo said quarterly profit rose by a better-than-expected 30 percent as the fourth-largest U.S. bank again dipped into funds previously set aside for bad loans.

Harley-Davidson posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit Tuesday on strong sales of its motorcycles, and it raised its forecast for shipments.

UnitedHealth posted a higher-than-expected second-quarter profit on Tuesday, helped by stronger enrollment, and the insurer raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Coca-Cola reported a higher quarterly profit Tuesday, helped by strong growth in emerging markets.

Today the House of Representatives will vote on the Republican “cut, cap and balance” plan. It would raise the debt ceiling, make immediate spending cuts, and start the process of amending the constitution to require a balanced federal budget. The plan is not expected to pass the Senate.

McDonald’s in China announced this week it is raising prices on just about every menu item for the fourth time in a year. That’ll put more pressure on the Chinese consumer who’s already dealing with 6 percent inflation.

To a ferry that crosses the Hudson River from New York City to Weehawken, N.J., every day. Tickets cost just under $10. But one passenger has been riding for free for the last three years. Every morning, he boards and rides back and forth for two hours. And then he returns for another two hours during the evening rush. His name is Tony, and he’s a pigeon. The crew says Tony thinks he’s human and he only misses the boat during blizzards. And, they say, he does a better job cleaning up the crumbs the passengers leave on the boat’s floor than the employees do.

There’s a contentious lawsuit over cupcakes. Specifically, the sweet bits on top of them. Candace Nelson — who owns a chain of cupcake shops called “Sprinkles” — is suing a Connecticut store called “Pink Sprinkles.” The suit demands Pink Sprinkles stop using Sprinkles in its name, saying “The resulting confusion will damage Sprinkles and injure its reputation.”

You can read the rest of today’s stories from the Marketplace Morning Report here.

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