Nation roundup for February 11


Cockfighting bust nets 3,000 birds

NEW YORK (AP) — More than 3,000 birds were rescued in a three-county cockfighting takedown in New York this weekend that resulted in nine felony arrests, according to the state attorney general’s office.

In a statement released Sunday night, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it was the largest cockfighting takedown in New York state and among the largest in U.S. history.

Operation Angry Birds simultaneously targeted locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Ulster County with assistance from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Ulster County Sheriff’s office, Schneiderman said.

“Cockfighting is a cruel, abusive and barbaric practice that tortures animals, endangers the health and safety of the public and is known to facilitate other crimes,” Schneiderman said.

At the cockfights, spectators were charged admission fees and an additional fee for a seat within the secret basement location that housed the all-night fights, authorities said. Alcohol was sold without a permit and owners and spectators placed bets on the fights with individual wagers reaching $10,000.

NYC mayor gives state of the city

NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio, delivering one of the most important speeches of his young administration, on Monday outlined his vision for New York and offered a glimpse into his signature goal of fighting the city’s widening income inequality gap.

Among other things, de Blasio plans to ask state lawmakers next week for the power to raise the minimum wage.

“We want to ensure that New Yorkers aren’t relegated to the ranks of the poor when putting in a full week’s work,” he said. “We will send a powerful signal to the people of New York — that we honor work … and that we are committed to making work pay.”

De Blasio also said municipal ID cards will be available to all residents this year regardless of their immigration status, “so that no daughter or son of our city goes without bank accounts, leases, library cards simply because they lack identification.”

Fresh off a landslide election that he believes gives him a strong mandate, de Blasio is calling for sweeping liberal legislative action to close the gap between the nation’s largest city’s haves and have-nots.

De Blasio, a Democrat whose party controls the City Council, is also making another push for his central campaign pledge to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund universal pre-kindergarten, an idea that polls well but needs support in Albany to become law.

Stocks end higher in quiet trading

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market ended up more or less where it began Monday in a quiet day for investors who had little economic data or company earnings to react to.

Analysts said the market is likely to remain in a holding pattern until traders hear from Janet Yellen in her first testimony before Congress since becoming head of the Federal Reserve.

After spending most of the day lower, the Dow Jones Industrial average turned slightly higher in late trading and closed up 7.71 points, or 0.1 percent, at 15,801.79.

The Standard &Poor’s 500 index rose 2.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,799.84 and the Nasdaq composite rose 22.31 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,148.17.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq was pushed higher by Apple, which rose $9.31, or 2 percent, to $528.99. Apple rose after the activist investor Carl Icahn said he has dropped his shareholder proposal to force Apple to increase its stock buybacks.

Apple recently disclosed it had bought $14 billion of its own stock.

Yellen, who started her term as head of the central bank this month, is scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. Yellen’s comments will be closely watched, especially after recent disappointing economic news and the Fed’s decision to further reduce on its monthly bond purchases.

Despite recent volatility in the market, investors believe that Yellen will likely continue her predecessor’s plan to continue winding down the Fed’s economic stimulus program. Last week, the Fed cut its bond purchases to $65 billion a month.

“We should expect more volatility as the Fed transitions away from its (economic stimulus plan),” said Doug Cote, chief investment strategist at ING Investment Management.

Investors got a respite from a recent deluge of earnings and economic reports. Wall Street remains in the middle of earnings season, when the bulk of the nation’s publicly traded companies report their quarterly results. Only two out of the 55 companies announcing this week reported their results Monday: the toy maker Hasbro and the industrial conglomerate Loews Corp.

Hasbro rose $2.27, or 5 percent, to $52.36. Hasbro’s said its fourth-quarter profits fell from a year ago, due to a slow holiday season, but it also boosted its dividend and issued a bright outlook for 2014.

Loews, which owns a variety of businesses including insurance, oil drilling and hotels and resorts, fell $1.92, or 4 percent, to $43.26. The company reported a loss of 51 cents a share, due to some one-time charges tied to its ownership of insurance company CNA Financial.

So far this quarter, 344 members of the S&P 500 index have reported their results. While the earnings results have been solid — up 8.1 percent from a year ago, according to FactSet — many companies have been lowering their forecasts for 2014. Fifty-seven companies have cut their forecasts for 2014, while only 14 have raised them, according to Factset.

“The guidance for the upcoming quarters has not been good at all,” said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist with S&P Capital IQ.

Stocks are also coming off of a strong finish last week.

The Dow rose 188 points on Thursday and 166 points on Friday. The market rallied Friday despite a government report that U.S. employers added just 113,000 jobs in January, fewer than economists were anticipating.

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all still negative for 2014, although the Nasdaq is down less than 1 percent. The Dow is down almost 5 percent this year, the S&P 500 almost 3 percent.

Trading volume was lighter than normal due to the lack of economic data and company news. Roughly 3.3 billion shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange, slightly below the recent average of 3.4 billion shares.

 

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