Nation roundup for April 3
Customers pack Conn. gun stores
NEWINGTON, Conn. (AP) — Customers packed gun stores around Connecticut on Tuesday ahead of a vote expected to bring sweeping changes to the state’s gun control laws, including a ban on the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown shooting and a new classification for more than 100 types of guns as banned assault weapons.
Lawmakers have touted the legislation expected to pass the General Assembly today as the toughest in the country. Some measures would take effect right away, including the expansion of the state’s assault weapons ban, universal background checks for all firearms sales, and a ban on the sale or purchase of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds. The bill also addresses mental health and school security measures in response to the massacre.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, supports the bill and could sign it into law as soon as tonight.
In a state with a rich history of gun manufacturing, some companies said they feel the legislation made them into scapegoats for the deaths of 20 first-graders and six educators in the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At least one ammunition magazine maker is more seriously considering offers to leave.
“My home is in Connecticut, but at this point, I don’t know if I can operate here legally come Wednesday afternoon,” said Jonathan Scalise, owner of Ammunition Storage Components in New Britain. He said it’s unclear to him whether employees in possession of banned firearms or ammunition would be breaking the law.
Health insurers lead stocks higher
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high Tuesday after reports on auto sales and factory orders provided the latest evidence that the U.S. economy is strengthening. Traders plowed money back into European stocks as the financial situation in Cyprus appeared to stabilize.
Health insurers powered the gains a day after the government released revised reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage plans.
The new numbers suggest that funding cuts will be less severe than analysts and companies had feared.
The Dow closed up 89.16 points, or 0.6 percent, at 14,662.01. It had risen as high as 14,684 in the late morning.
The Dow broke through an all-time record on March 5. It has risen steadily since then, routinely setting new trading highs.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.08 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,570.25. It rose to within two points of its trading high of 1,576 reached on Oct. 11, 2007.
European markets closed sharply higher on the first trading day after a tense, four-day holiday weekend. Paris’ CAC-40 rose 2 percent, London’s FTSE 100 1.2 percent and Frankfurt’s DAX 1.9 percent.
The gains in Europe markets boosted confidence among U.S. investors. While European markets were closed for four days for the Easter holiday, many traders feared that Cyprus’ precarious financial situation would worsen.
That concern also weighed on U.S. markets Monday, said Peter Tchir, who runs the hedge fund TF Market Advisors.
Fannie Mae earns biggest profit ever
WASHINGTON (AP) — Home prices are up. Foreclosures are down. Construction is up. And now comes the latest sign of the U.S. home market’s revival: Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant that nearly collapsed five years ago, has earned its biggest yearly profit ever.
Fannie Mae earned $17.2 billion last year and said Tuesday that it expects to stay profitable for “the foreseeable future.” It also paid $11.6 billion in dividends to the U.S. Treasury in 2012.
And last year was Fannie’s first since its takeover by the government in 2008 that it asked for no federal aid. As recently as 2011, Fannie lost nearly $17 billion and requested and received nearly $26 billion in aid.
The speed of Fannie’s resurgence is a testament to a much healthier U.S. mortgage market.
Suit: Huffington trashed NYC loft
NEW YORK (AP) — A lawsuit accuses Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington of trashing a New York City loft that she leased from a documentary filmmaker.
Huffington calls the allegations false.
Filmmaker Eric Steel filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday. It asks for $275,000 in damages.
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