Eurozone recovery proves elusive
LONDON - Several economic figures for the 17 EU countries that use the euro all showed the same thing Wednesday - there's no sign of recovery from recession.
Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, said the eurozone's economy shrank 0.2 percent in the first quarter of the year from the previous three-month period, with most sectors declining.
Companies and consumers have shown little willingness to invest and spend as they struggle with high debt, tight credit markets and record unemployment of 12.2 percent across the eurozone. As a result, the bloc's economy has shrunk for six straight quarters.
Principal at risk in money-market plan
WASHINGTON - Investors could lose principal from money-market investment funds that perform poorly under regulations proposed Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. But the change would affect mainly institutional rather than individual investors.
The SEC voted 5-0 to advance the plan, which would require shares of some money-market funds to "float," instead of having a fixed value of $1 per share. The proposal failed to gain support last year but has since won the backing of a panel of regulators that includes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The agency also proposed new fees on withdrawals from funds if assets that can be readily converted into cash fall below a certain level. Both changes are intended to better inform investors and protect the industry from risks.
Fed survey: Growth improves modestly
WASHINGTON - A Federal Reserve survey says economic growth increased throughout the U.S. from April through late May, fueled by home construction, consumer spending and steady hiring.
The Beige Book survey, released Wednesday, said 11 of the Fed's banking districts reported "modest to moderate" economic growth. The 12th, in Dallas, reported strong growth. The survey is based on anecdotal reports.
Monsanto uncertain on source of wheat
Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, said experimental wheat engineered to survive Roundup weedkiller may have gotten into an Oregon field through an "accidental or purposeful" act.
Monsanto and the Department of Agriculture are investigating how genetically modified wheat that hasn't been approved for commercial planting was found growing on an Oregon farm eight years after the company ended field tests.
The discovery prompted Japan and South Korea to suspend some U.S. wheat purchases, and a Kansas farmer claimed Tuesday in a federal lawsuit that Monsanto damaged the market for his crop.
The company's tests show the genetically modified variety isn't present in the types of seeds planted on the Oregon farm or in the wheat seed typically grown in Oregon and Washington, Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley said Wednesday on a call with reporters. The unapproved wheat was found growing on less than 1 percent of the farmer's 125-acre field, Fraley said.
"It seems likely to be a random, isolated occurrence more consistent with the accidental or purposeful mixing of a small amount of seed during the planting, harvesting or during the fallow cycle in an individual field," Fraley said.
Asked whether the company is suggesting the incident could be an act of sabotage, Fraley said, "That is certainly one of the options we are looking at."
Fraley said he doesn't mean to suggest the farmer who made the discovery is responsible.
Treasury to sell 30M shares of GM stock
DETROIT - The government plans to sell another 30 million shares of General Motors stock in a public offering today, as it speeds up efforts to divest itself from a stake in the auto giant that it took over in a bailout four years ago.
Associated Press; Bloomberg News