â¿¿ SMALLBIZ-SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM â¿¿ Optimism among small business owners took a dive last month as their expectations for sales and the overall business climate fell.â¿¿ BRITAIN-TAX â¿¿ Britain says it has struck a deal with France, Germany, Spain and Italy to share financial data and fight tax evasion. WALL STREET NEW YORK â¿¿ Stocks were little changed in early trading as traders lacked a catalyst to push stocks higher following a strong start to the year. â¿¿ OIL PRICES â¿¿ The price of oil rose slightly closer to $94 a barrel Tuesday, continuing to recover from last week's steep slide. AUTOS: FORD-BEST-SELLING CAR DETROIT â¿¿ Ford Motor Co. says its Focus small car was the best-selling vehicle nameplate in the world last year, with just over 1 million sold. ITALY-FIAT TURIN, Italy â¿¿ Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne forecasts sales of between 4.3 million and 4.5 million cars in 2013, slightly higher than last year. Marchionne told shareholders the company expects growth in the U.S., Latin America and Asia, while sales in Europe are forecast to decline for a sixth straight year. INDUSTRY: EUROPE-MASTERCARD-ANTRITRUST PROBE BRUSSELS â¿¿ The European Union has launched an antitrust investigation of some of MasterCard's payment fees. The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc's antitrust authority, said it has concerns that some of the U.S. company's inter-bank fees and related practices may be violating competition rules. â¿¿ OFFICEMAX â¿¿ Office Depot and OfficeMax formed a CEO search committee and received a request for more information from the Federal Trade Communication about their planned merger. â¿¿KPMG-PERSONNEL â¿¿ Accounting firm KPMG has fired a partner at its Los Angeles unit for allegedly giving private client information to a third party, who then used it for stock trades involving several West Coast companies. â¿¿ AMTRAK-RIDERSHIPâ¿¿ Amtrak ridership increased in the first six months of fiscal year 2013, with ridership in March setting a record as the single best month ever in Amtrak's history, the railroad said Tuesday.
â¿¿ NFL--CONCUSSION LAWSUITS â¿¿ A federal court hearing in Philadelphia could determine whether the NFL faces years of litigation over concussion-related brain injuries.TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA: GOOGLE FIBER-TEXAS AUSTIN, Texas â¿¿ Google Inc. is expected to name tech-savvy Austin as the second city where the search giant will offer its ultra-fast home Internet service. AP photo. CHINA-US-HACKING BEIJING â¿¿ Hacking that originates inside China is undermining its relationship with the United States and harms Beijing's long-term interests, a top U.S. diplomat said, in the latest high-level public expression of concern over a problem that has prompted threats of commercial retaliation from Washington By Christopher Bodeen. INTERNATIONAL: CYPRUS-DYING FATHER'S WISHES NICOSIA, Cyprus â¿¿ When Costas Kalapodas was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago and given months to live, he saw one sure place to put his money: Cyprus' biggest bank. The 43-year-old threw his entire savings into Bank of Cyprus stock, and even took out a big loan to pad his holdings. Today, a multi-billion bailout has rendered Bank of Cyprus shares effectively worthless, their value wiped out under the terms of a complicated recapitalization scheme. Like many ordinary Cypriots, Kalapodas' 35-year-old widow is wondering how she and her family will survive in the years to come. By Menelaos Hadjicostis. AP photos EUROPE-LEW BERLIN â¿¿ The new U.S. Treasury secretary and his German counterpart are downplaying their differences over whether Europe should ease off on austerity in the interests of economic growth. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew met Tuesday with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as part of the US official's tour of Europe. Germany has been a force behind making deficit reduction the focus of the eurozone's crisis response while Washington has said it would like to see greater emphasis on growth-friendly policies. AP photos. â¿¿ GERMANY-ECONOMY â¿¿ German exports declined by 1.5 percent in February compared with the previous month, adding to mixed signals about Europe's biggest economy. The decline reported Tuesday by the Federal Statistical Office canceled out a 1.3 percent gain the previous month. Germany exported goods and services worth 90.4 billion euros ($117.5 billion), a figure adjusted for calendar and seasonal effects.
â¿¿ PORTUGAL-FINANCIAL CRISIS â¿¿ Portugal's finance minister has a message for his government colleagues: don't spend an extra penny without asking me first.â¿¿ GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS â¿¿ Greece has raised 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in an auction of six-month treasury bills at an interest rate of 4.25 percent, unchanged from an auction last month. FRANCE-LAGARDERE-EADS PARIS â¿¿ French media company Lagardere says it has sold its entire 7.4 percent stake in European aerospace and defense giant EADS. EADS, the parent to plane maker Airbus, said it bought some of the shares sold, adding 1.61 percent to its holdings of its own stock. ASIA-ECONOMY HONG KONG â¿¿ Economic growth in developing Asia is picking up, underpinned by China's rebound and strength in countries such as Indonesia, the Asian Development Bank said in a report, while warning that political disputes pose an increased threat to growth. By Kelvin Chan. â¿¿ CHINA-INFLATIONâ¿¿ China's inflation declined in March, easing pressure on consumers but fueling questions about the strength of recovery in the world's second-biggest economy. By Joe McDonald. â¿¿ INDIA-ECONOMY â¿¿ Domestic consumption could boost India's slowing economy to 6 percent growth this year, but the country may still fail to reach that level if it does not follow through on reforms to encourage investment, the Asian Development Bank says. By Kay Johnson. CHINA-CHRISTIE'S HONG KONG â¿¿ Christie's said it will be the first international auction house to operate without a local partner in mainland China, one of the world's biggest art markets. The company said that it won a license to hold auctions in Shanghai beginning this fall. By Kelvin Chan.