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Business highlights

Business highlights for April 21, 2012
Published: April 21, 2012
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Nation

IMF plans to get more pledges

When the International Monetary Fund meets this weekend, its top goal will be as simple as it is difficult: Get member nations to pledge many more billions in aid — in case the IMF needs to rescue more European economies. Yet even success would hardly inspire confidence in Europe's economy. It is, by all accounts, already in recession. And slowing economies elsewhere — from China to Brazil to India — may reduce the exports the continent needs to grow. European nations need faster growth to help lighten their debt loads. All that is out of the IMF's control — whether or not it receives pledges of further aid this weekend.

Men charged in stock-robot case

U.S. investors thought they were buying access to a stock-picking robot named Marl. Instead, they paid millions to teenage twin brothers in England who now face civil fraud charges for an alleged penny-stock swindle. The robot didn't exist. The stocks picked were companies that paid hefty fees to Alexander and Thomas Hunter, just 16 when the alleged scheme began in 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday. As stock prices jumped, the Hunters' clients dumped their shares for a profit.

Disney studio chief quits

Disney movie studio boss Rich Ross is stepping down, a month after the family entertainment giant booked a huge loss on the mega-budget sci-fi movie “John Carter.” Ross, 50, had taken the job just two and a half years ago with a mission to cut costs and develop new hits. He had brought “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana” to TV audiences as the former head of Disney Channels Worldwide. But the studio's losses continued under Ross despite major restructuring efforts. Disney booked a $200 million loss on “John Carter,” a special-effects-laden movie based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs book series. The movie had an estimated budget of $250 million.

Rare penny sells for $1.15M

When is a penny worth $1.15 million? When it is a rare experimental penny minted in 1792. The unusual coin was auctioned off Thursday at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in suburban Chicago. Officials with Heritage Auctions say Kevin Lipton of Beverly Hills, Calif., bought the penny on behalf of a group of unnamed investors. The winning bid was $1 million, but the investors also must pay the auction house's 15 percent commission.

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