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Digest

Investment, trade deficits set 2006 marks

By TIMES WIRES
Published March 15, 2007


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WASHINGTON, D.C.

The deficit in the broadest measure of trade hit an all-time high in 2006 and for the first time the United States even ran a deficit on investment income. The Commerce Department reported that the imbalance in the current account jumped by 8.2 percent, to $856.7-billion, representing a record 6.5 percent of the total economy. It marked the fifth straight year the current account deficit set a record. Investment flows turned negative by $7.3-billion from a surplus of $11.3-billion in 2005. It was the first time investment income has been negative on records going back to 1929. That means foreigners earned more on their U.S. holdings than Americans earned on their overseas investments.

Online gambling ban under review

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is considering legislation that would overturn the ban on online gambling passed last fall. "There's no draft, no text - this is very much still in the thinking stage," said spokesman Steve Adamske. The Financial Times quoted Frank on Wednesday saying that the law, known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, is one of the "stupidest" ever passed. The act makes it illegal for U.S. banks and credit-card companies to process payments to online gambling businesses outside the United States.

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Charges dropped in HP spy case

A judge dropped charges Wednesday against former Hewlett-Packard Co. board chairwoman Patricia Dunn, accused of orchestrating the boardroom spying scandal at the Silicon Valley computer company. Three other defendants in the case will also avoid jail time after they entered no-contest pleas to misdemeanor charges in Santa Clara Superior Court. The charges against former HP ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker, and private investigators Ronald DeLia and Matthew Depante will be dropped in September after they complete 96 hours of community service and make restitution, the judge said.

NEW ORLEANS

Copper shares turn gold for investors

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.'s $25.9-billion cash-and-stock acquisition of rival Phelps Dodge Corp. was approved Wednesday by shareholders of both companies. The deal would create the world's largest publicly traded copper company. Phelps Dodge shareholders will receive $88 in cash, or a total of $18-billion, and 0.67 percent of a share of Freeport's common stock for each Phelps Dodge share - the equivalent of $125.53, based on Freeport's closing price on Tuesday.

ATLANTA

Floridian among 10 guilty in fraud trial

A federal jury found 10 people guilty Wednesday in a mortgage fraud scheme that authorities said involved more than $41-million. Thirteen others pleaded guilty earlier, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Among those on trial was Phillip E. Hill, 49, of Blountstown, who was convicted of conspiracy, loan fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering. Hill made more than $14-million through the scheme to obtain mortgages.

[Last modified March 15, 2007, 02:28:42]


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