Business briefs

2013-08-29T17:15:00Z 2013-08-30T08:40:47Z Business briefsArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Ariz. gas prices down headed into holiday

For the fifth straight week, Arizona motorists saw gas prices fall, while the average price nationwide moved in the opposite direction.

In the past week, the statewide average shed 3 cents to $3.39 per gallon of regular gas on Thursday, according to AAA Arizona. Nationally, prices rose 3 cents in a week to $3.56 per gallon.

Tucson had the state’s lowest average price, at $3.27 per gallon, or about 3 cents less than last week; Flagstaff had the highest average at $3.67 per gallon.

Phoenix saw its average gas price drop nearly 5 cents in the past week, to $3.33 per gallon on Thursday, according to AAA.

US economy grew

at 2.5% rate in spring

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate from April through June, much faster than previously estimated. The steep revision was largely because U.S. companies exported more goods and imports declined.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that second-quarter growth was sharply higher than the initial 1.7 percent rate it reported last month. And the growth this spring was more than double the 1.1 percent rate from January through March.

The improvement in the trade deficit helped offset a weaker government spending.

Economists expect growth will stay at an annual rate of around 2.5 percent in the second half of the year, helped by steady job gains and less drag from federal spending cuts. Still, some say higher interest rates might restrain the economy’s expansion in the second half.

Applications drop

for unemployment aid

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits remained near the lowest level in more than five years last week, a sign that companies are cutting few jobs.

First-time applications for benefits fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 331,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The four week average, a less volatile measure, inched up 750 to 331,250 after falling to its lowest level since November 2007 the previous week.

$42.2B in 2nd quarter is record for US banks

U.S. banks earned more from April through June than during any quarter on record, aided by a steep drop in losses from bad loans.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says the banking industry earned $42.2 billion in the second quarter, up 23 percent from the second quarter of 2012. About 54 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings from a year earlier.

Bank lending increased 1 percent from the first quarter.

Still, the report shows that the largest banks continue to drive the industry’s profits while smaller institutions have struggled.

Nasdaq takes blame for 3-hour breakdown

NEW YORK — A three-hour trading outage on the Nasdaq last week was partly the result of issues within the company’s control, the Nasdaq OMX Group said Thursday.

The company detailed some of its early findings from an internal review. The Nasdaq blamed “a confluence of unprecedented events” that overwhelmed the exchange’s system for handling price information. It said the catalyst was a torrent of messages from a trading platform run by the New York Stock Exchange, Arca.

Verizon in discussions

to buy Vodafone stake

Verizon Communications Inc. may be close to striking one of the largest deals in history to take full control of the country’s leading wireless carrier.

Vodafone Group confirmed that it is in advanced discussions with Verizon to sell its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. It appears the two sides may be days away from finalizing a transaction that could cost as much as $130 billion.

Such a sale is not likely to affect consumers in the short term.

The Associated Press

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at or 573-4181.

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