Nation roundup for September 13


At least 3 killed in Colo. flooding

LYONS, Colo. (AP) — Heavy rains sent walls of water crashing down mountainsides Thursday in Colorado, cutting off remote towns, forcing the state’s largest university to close and leaving at least three people dead across a rugged landscape that included areas blackened by recent wildfires.

A storm system has been dropping rain on the region for much of the week. Up to 8 inches fell in an area spanning from the Wyoming border south to the foothills west of Denver. Flooding extended all along the Front Range mountains, including the cities of Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Greeley, Aurora and Boulder.

Numerous roads were washed out or made impassable by floods. Parts of several interstate highways in the Denver area were closed for a time. Floodwaters poured into homes, and at least a few buildings collapsed in the torrent.

Boulder County appeared to be hardest hit. Sheriff Joe Pelle said the town of Lyons was completely cut off because of flooded roads, and residents were huddling together on higher ground. Although everyone was believed to be safe, the deluge was expected to continue into Friday.

“It is not an ordinary disaster,” Pelle said. “All the preparation in the world … it can’t put people up those canyons while these walls of water are coming down.”

Fire rages along boardwalk in N.J.

SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (AP) — A massive fire raging for hours burned several blocks of boardwalk and businesses Thursday in a New Jersey shore town that was still rebuilding from damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.

More than three hours after the fire started in the vicinity of an ice cream shop, television footage showed flames still leaping into the sky and thick black smoke covering a stretch of the coastline. The fire was spreading into neighboring Seaside Heights, where the MTV reality series “Jersey Shore” was filmed.

Gov. Chris Christe was en route Thursday night, promising the full assistance of the state in dealing with the devastation.

“Pictures and video of the fire are startling and sad given what Seaside Park and neighboring Seaside Heights have endured with Superstorm Sandy,” said the governor’s spokesman, Michael Drewniak.

Television footage showed an excavator being used to dig up a section of boardwalk to create a fire line, and a fire truck drawing water from a motel swimming pool.

United offers $0 to $10 fares

Associated Press

For a little while on Thursday, United Airlines was giving away airplane tickets for free, or close to it.

Passengers reported buying tickets for $5 to $10 before United shut down the bookings on its website and phone centers to prevent more tickets from being sold or given away.

The airline said it accidentally filed some fares for $0. Airport charges might have resulted in a small cost seen by some passengers.

The website was accepting reservations again around 2:45 p.m. Central time.

Such fare mistakes have happened before, often when an airline dropped a digit when entering fares into its computer system.

That may be what happened here. United Continental Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the mistake was due to an error in filing the fares, not a problem with the website. She said United doesn’t yet know how many tickets were sold at the unusually low prices.

Will United honor the tickets? The airline is thinking about it. “As always, we will do what is appropriate,” McCarthy said.

Twitter tweets it will go public

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter is going public. The short messaging service aptly tweeted on Thursday it has filed confidential documents for an initial public offering of stock.

But the documents are sealed, as Twitter is taking advantage of federal legislation passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year to avoid submitting public IPO documents.

San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. posted on its official Twitter account Thursday afternoon that it has “confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO.”

The confidentiality will likely help Twitter avoid the public hoopla that surrounded the initial public offerings of other high-profile social networking companies, including Facebook Inc., which went public in May 2012.

Twitter’s IPO has been long expected. The company has been ramping up its advertising products and working to boost ad revenue in preparation.

Most of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising. Research firm eMarketer estimates that Twitter will make $582.8 million in worldwide ad revenue this year, up from $288.3 million in 2012.

Fear of volatility fades on Wall St.

NEW YORK (AP) — September was supposed to be ugly for financial markets.

The prospects of a U.S. attack on Syria and less economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve only added to investor worries going into September, which historically is the worst month of the year for stocks.

Instead, the Dow Jones industrial average is up 3.3 percent so far this month, even after it slipped 26 points, to 15,300.64 on Thursday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up 3.1 percent this month, after falling six points Thursday to 1,683.42.

The S&P 500 rose for seven straight days before Thursday, its longest winning streak since July. The Dow climbed three straight days before Thursday’s loss.

Another positive sign for markets is the CBOE Volatility Index, sometimes referred to as “Wall Street’s fear gauge.” When the VIX, as it is better known, moves higher, it means investors expect more volatility in the next 30 days. It is down more than 15 percent this month. Gold, another signal of investor fear, is down more than five percent.

What happened to gloomy September?

The recent de-escalation of the U.S.-Syria crisis combined with a calming in the bond market has provided fuel to lift stocks, market strategists and investors said. Expectations of stronger corporate earnings are also helping out stocks, investors said.

While the ultimate fate of a U.S. attack on Syria is unknown, it looks like an immediate missile strike isn’t happening soon.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday his government has agreed to surrender its chemical weapons in response to a Russian proposal.

“Syria is still there as a concern, but it’s starting to de-escalate,” said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., which manages $1.9 billion in assets.

While Syria’s economy is too small to have an impact on the global economy, the country is important for oil markets since a conflict there could escalate and jeopardize the flow of crude from the Middle East.

“We’re no longer looking at the worst-case scenario,” said Burt White, chief investment officer with LPL Financial.

It’s also important to look at what’s happened in the bond market the last couple of weeks, said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Investors had been dumping bonds most of the summer, Kinahan said, as investors prepared for the Fed to quickly wind down a bond-purchase program that had kept interest rates low for so long. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note soared from 1.63 percent in early May to 3 percent last week. Bond prices fall as yields rise.

 

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