The Associated Press___ Former Goldman Sachs director convicted in NYC NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ A former Goldman Sachs director accused of feeding confidential information to a corrupt hedge fund manager has been convicted of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. A jury acquitted Rajat Gupta on two other securities fraud counts. Gupta's adult daughters hugged and wept as the verdict was read. He showed no visible reaction. The 63-year-old Gupta â¿¿ born in India, educated at Harvard and well-known in corporate America â¿¿ has been the most prominent defendant prosecuted so far in a wide-ranging probe of alleged insider trading in the hedge fund industry by investigators armed with wiretaps. His trial and one last year for former billionaire Raj Rajaratnam pulled back the curtain on how the two longtime friends and Wall Street titans navigated the turbulent waters of the 2008 economic meltdown. ___ Central banks stand ready on eve of Greek vote FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) â¿¿ On the eve of Greek elections, Europe's central bankers hope to avert a financial panic by signaling their readiness to support banks. At the same time, the head of the European Central Bank is calling on nations to pursue steps that could eventually boost economic growth, such as easing corporate regulations. For now, the stress gripping Europe in its debt crisis is growing. Governments are struggling to borrow. Banks are wary of lending to each other and their customers. And nervous depositors are pulling money from Greek and Spanish banks. ___ US factory production declined 0.4 percent in May WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. factories produced less in May than in April, as automakers cut back for the first time in six months. The report indicates that manufacturing, a key driver of the economic growth, is slowing. The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory output declined 0.4 percent last month, after increasing 0.7 percent in April. Auto production fell 1.5 percent, the first drop since November.
Overall industrial production, which includes mines and utilities, dipped 0.1 percent, after a solid 1 percent rise in April. Both mines and utilities increased production.___ Foreign holdings of US debt hit record high WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record high in April. China, the largest buyer of Treasury debt, increased its holdings slightly after trimming them for two straight months. The Treasury Department said Friday that total foreign holdings rose 0.4 percent to $5.16 trillion. It was the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Demand for U.S. debt is rising largely because investors are worried about Europe's worsening debt crisis. U.S. government debt is considered one of the safest investments in the world. ___ Unemployment rates rose in 18 US states last month WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Unemployment rates rose in 18 U.S. states in May, the most in nine months. Increasing unemployment in more than a third of U.S. states is the latest evidence of a weaker job market. The Labor Department said that unemployment rates fell in 14 states. That's fewer than the previous month, when rates fell in 37 states. Rates were unchanged in 18 states. Nationally, the jobless rate rose to 8.2 percent in May from 8.1 percent in April, the first increase in almost a year. Employers added only 69,000 jobs, the fewest in 12 months. ___ SEC questioned Facebook about Zynga, mobile NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ As Facebook's much-anticipated public stock offering approached, federal regulators wanted to know more about the revenue it gets from mobile devices, its $1 billion deal to buy Instagram and the control CEO Mark Zuckerberg has over the company. Documents filed Friday show the back-and-forth the social-networking company had with the Securities and Exchange Commission on a variety of issues. As all companies do, Facebook Inc. amended its regulatory documents several times ahead of its initial public offering of stock. But the communications leading to those changes weren't public until now.
Facebook disclosed its letters with the SEC in regulatory filings Friday. The filings are a usual part of the IPO process. The letters are typically confidential until about 30 days following an IPO. Facebook's IPO took place May 17.___ Again a power in OPEC, Iraq could shift landscape BAGHDAD (AP) â¿¿ Iraq's rapidly expanding oil production is likely to complicate OPEC's efforts to influence world prices as the country re-emerges as a major player after 20 years on the sidelines due to sanctions and strife. For now, Iraq is backing Iran's push for OPEC to set lower production limits and keep prices high, but Baghdad's own ambitious plans for expansion could cause an overall production increase that may help drive down prices. Analysts say Iraq's new clout is shifting the power balance in the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and could force it to overhaul its intricate production quota system to accommodate Baghdad's greater output. ___ New owner plans to close Fashion Bug SUFFERN, N.Y. (AP) â¿¿ Fashion Bug, a low-priced women's clothing chain, will soon join the retail graveyard. Ascena Retail Group Inc. has completed its buyout of Charming Shoppes Inc., which owns the chain, and now plans to close the remaining several hundred Fashion Bug stores by early next year. The company didn't say how many employees will be affected. Ascena is generally trying to shed parts of Charming Shoppes that it doesn't want and said Friday that it may sell Figi's, which is profitable and growing, because it is not a clear fit with its other clothing brands. ___ Burger King plans big expansion in China NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Burger King is setting its sights on China. The world's second largest hamburger chain says it will open 1,000 restaurants in the country over the next five to seven years. It's the largest multi-unit development deal in Burger King's history. There are currently just 63 Burger King restaurants in China.
McDonald's Corp. has more than 1,400 restaurants in the country.Burger King, which has more than 12,500 restaurants worldwide, said Friday that its China expansion is a joint venture with the Kurdoglu family, which runs 450 Burger King restaurants in Turkey, and private equity firm Cartesian Capital Group. ___ Carlos Slim acquires stake in Argentine oil and gas company MEXICO CITY (AP) â¿¿ The world's richest man, Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim, has acquired an 8.4 percent stake in Argentina's newly state-controlled oil and gas producer, YPF SA, but it's unclear what he intends to do with it. While it could be seen as part of a recent buying spree of assets in Europe and Latin America, Slim's office is coy about whether he intends to keep the YPF shares. Slim has a reputation for purchasing under-valued companies and distressed assets in times of crisis and later selling them off. But he also has a real interest in the oil industry, with companies like Swecomex providing offshore oil platforms and equipment. A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said Slim and members of his family bought 32.9 million shares of YPF Class D shares on Tuesday and Wednesday. ___ By The Associated Press(equals) The Dow Jones industrial average rose 115.26 points to close at 12,767.17, its highest finish since May 11. The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 13.74 points to 1,342.84, also its highest since May 11. The Nasdaq composite index rose 36.47 points to 2,872.80. Benchmark U.S. oil edged up 12 cents Friday to end at $84.03 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to make gasoline in much of the U.S., rose 44 cents to finish at $97.61. In other energy trading heating oil rose 1.87 cents to end at $2.6465 per gallon, gasoline futures gained 2.53 cents to finish at $2.7017 per gallon and natural gas fell 2.8 cents to end at $2.467 per 1,000 cubic feet.