The government wants Chrysler to recall 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokees, like these, and Libertys that it says are at risk of fuel-tank fires in rear-end crashes. Chrysler refuses, saying the vehicles are safe.



Jobless payments to drop for those on extension

PHOENIX - Arizonans who have exhausted their initial 26 weeks of unemployment insurance will see cuts in their weekly benefits of as much as $40 because of across-the-board federal budget cuts known as the sequestration.

The cuts mean the maximum payment available goes to $200 a week from $240 beginning Monday for people who are on a 28-week federal extension of the original benefit. The Arizona Department of Economic Security mailed more than 26,000 notices to those on extended benefits advising them of the change last month.


Judge OKs merger vote by American's creditors

A federal judge has cleared the way for American Airlines' creditors to vote on a merger with Tempe-based US Airways.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane on Tuesday approved American parent AMR Corp.'s description of its restructuring plan, including a merger that would create the world's biggest airline. If creditors approve the plan, the company will seek final approval from Lane this summer.

The merger and turnaround plan would result in full repayment to AMR bondholders.

At a hearing Tuesday in New York, the judge delayed ruling on a $19.9 million severance package for AMR CEO Tom Horton.

Home prices up by most in 7 yrs.; Arizona is 3rd

U.S. home prices soared 12.1 percent in April from a year earlier, the biggest gain since February 2006, as more buyers competed for fewer homes.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic said prices rose in April from the previous April in 48 states. Prices in Nevada jumped 24.6 percent from a year earlier, the most among the states. California's gain was next at 19.4 percent, followed by Arizona's 17.3 percent.

Chrysler defies US request to recall 2.7 million Jeeps

DETROIT - A defiant Chrysler is refusing to recall 2.7 million Jeeps the government says are at risk of a fuel-tank fire in a rear-end collision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent Chrysler a letter asking that the company voluntarily recall Grand Cherokees from 1993 through 2004 and Libertys from 2002 through 2007.

Chrysler Group LLC, which is majority-owned by Italy's Fiat SpA, said Tuesday that the Jeeps are safe and it "does not intend to recall the vehicles."

Such a refusal by an auto company is rare. NHTSA can order a recall but needs a court order to enforce it. The agency found the Jeeps' fuel tanks can fail when hit from the rear, leak fuel and cause fires if there's an ignition source.

NHTSA found at least 32 rear-impact crashes and fires in Grand Cherokees that caused 44 deaths. It also found at least five rear crashes in Libertys, causing seven deaths.

President cracks down against 'patent trolls'

WASHINGTON - President Obama announced a series of actions Tuesday aimed at protecting technology, finance and retail companies from lawsuits and demands for fees by businesses that abuse the patent system.

The crackdown on what critics have called "patent trolls" includes five executive actions and seven recommendations that require congressional action. Changes would include making patent owners and applicants identify who benefits financially from the patent and improving application examinations.

Trade deficit up 8.5% to $40.3 billion in April

WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit widened in April, as demand for foreign cars, cellphones and other imported goods outpaced growth in U.S. exports.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade gap rose 8.5 percent in April from March to $40.3 billion.

Exports increased 1.2 percent to $187.4 billion, the second-highest level on record. Companies sold more telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, airplane parts, U.S.-made autos and auto parts.

The Associated Press; Bloomberg News