Nearly 65,000 to get checks in foreclosures

Nearly 65,000 Arizonans who lost their homes to foreclosure from 2008 to 2011 will receive checks for $1,480 this summer.

It's part of a settlement with the nation's five largest banks. The $96.5 million settlement involved Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced the restitution payments at a news conference Thursday in Phoenix.

Arizona was among the hardest hit states by the mortgage crisis. It's getting a 7.6 percent share of a $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement that was announced in 2012. That's the third largest share behind California and Florida.

Price of gasoline rising statewide

Gasoline prices are on the rise again around Arizona.

The average statewide price for regular gasoline is $3.48 a gallon, AAA Arizona said Thursday. That's up 2 cents from last week.

Tucson has the lowest average price in Arizona at $3.26 a gallon, up a penny.

The national average remains at $3.63 per gallon.


Grocers allege spying, potato price-fixing

BOISE, Idaho - A U.S. wholesale grocer says America's potato farmers have run an illegal price-fixing cartel for a decade, driving up spud prices while spying on farmers with satellites and aircraft flyovers to enforce strict limits on how many tubers they can grow.

Kansas-based Associated Wholesale Grocers' lawsuit against United Potato Growers of America and two dozen other defendants was shifted this week to U.S. District Court in Idaho.

The grocery group, a cooperative that supplies more than 2,000 stores, including IGA, Thriftway and Price Chopper in 24 states, contends that the potato growers banded together in 2004 to illegally inflate prices in a scheme akin to the petroleum-producing OPEC cartel, reducing planting acreages and destroying potatoes to restrict what was available for sale.

United Potato Growers of America's Salt Lake City-based attorney, Randon Wilson, contends his group is shielded by the Capper-Volstead Act. That 1922 federal law was meant as a limited exemption from antitrust rules for agricultural cooperatives, while still aiming to protect consumers from unduly high prices that could accompany a monopoly.

"We know what you have to do to qualify for that limited exemption and we followed all those rules," Wilson said.

Retail sales up; jobless filings down

WASHINGTON - In U.S. economic reports Thursday:

• Americans stepped up purchases at retail businesses in May, spending more on cars, home improvements and sporting goods. The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.6 percent in May from April. That's up from a 0.1 percent gain the previous month and the fastest pace since February.

• The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 334,000.

The less volatile four-week average decreased 7,250 to 345,250, the Labor Department said.

• U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles 0.3 percent in April but their sales slipped 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said.

The Associated Press