• IDNR set to release fracking rules Friday

    Yesterday

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is expected to release proposed rules for high-volume oil and gas drilling to a legislative panel. Department officials say that rules to implement the state's year-old hydraulic fracturing law will be submitted to the Illinois Legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules Friday. The agency has come under increasing criticism from "fracking" supporters who had hoped that drilling could begin this summer. But a draft of the proposed rules released last year proved controversial, and was heavily criticized by environmentalists. The Department of Natural Resources has spent recent months sorting through more than 30,000 comments.

  • W. Pa. township sued over gas drilling

    Yesterday

    PULASKI, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania couple is suing their township, claiming that supervisors improperly approved natural gas drilling in a residential area. The lawsuit against Pulaski Township was filed by Timothy Chito and Elizabeth Kesner. The lawsuit says the couple purchased a home in the area in 1996, but that recent drilling about 1500 feet away is affecting their property and quality of life. The area is about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. The lawsuit seeks damages and to have the township amend its local zoning laws so that drilling is only allowed in industrial areas. The township did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  • USDA launches new dairy insurance program

    Yesterday

    MILWAUKEE (AP) — Dairy farmers squeezed in recent years by low milk prices and high feed costs can begin signing up next week for a new program replacing old subsidies that didn't factor in the price of corn. Signups for the new program will run Sept. 2 to Nov. 28, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday. Farmers must enroll then to participate in the program in what's left of 2014 and in 2015. They will have annual signups after that. The new program is a kind of insurance that pays farmers when the difference between milk prices and feed prices shrink to a certain level. The previous program paid farmers when milk prices sank too low, but didn't account for their costs. Dairy farmers have struggled

  • Retail gasoline prices drop 2 cents across Texas

    Yesterday

    IRVING, Texas (AP) — Retail gasoline prices across the state continue to drop as millions of Texans prepare to hit the road for the long Labor Day weekend. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump this week is $3.26, down 2 cents from last week. The national average this week is $3.43, down a penny. Drivers in El Paso are paying the most at $3.33 per gallon while motorists in Beaumont are paying the least at $3.20. AAA says more than 2.5 million Texans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the holiday weekend. About 2.1 million will travel by automobile. AAA says gas prices are trending downward because of stable global supplies that are not being affected by tensions in Syria,

  • Average US 30-year mortgage rate at 4.1 percent

    Yesterday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The average 30-year U.S. mortgage rate remained at a 52-week low of 4.10 this week. Mortgage company Freddie Mac also said Thursday that the average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, rose to 3.25 percent from 3.23 percent. At its 52-week low of 4.10 percent, the rate on a 30-year mortgage is down from 4.53 percent at the start of the year. Rates have fallen even though the Federal Reserve has been trimming its monthly bond purchases, which are intended to keep long-term borrowing rates low. The purchases are set to end in October. The low rates appear to have boosted U.S. home sales. Data released Thursday showed that more Americans signed contracts to buy homes

  • US to begin safety testing Ebola vaccine next week

    Yesterday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is launching the safety trial on a vaccine developed by the agency's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline. Beginning Tuesday, it will test 20 healthy adult volunteers to see if the virus is safe and triggers an adequate response in their immune systems. Even though NIH has been testing other Ebola vaccines in people since 2003, this is a first for this vaccine and its trial has been speeded up because the outbreak in West Africa "is a public health emergency that demands an all-hands-on-deck

  • A&F's shares tumble as teens turn elsewhere

    Yesterday

    NEW ALBANY, Ohio (AP) — The Abercrombie & Fitch logo has lost the power it once wielded. Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. tumbled Thursday after reporting weak sales as more teens shop elsewhere. The company is trying to stock trendier clothing — and it turns out that means stripping off the once-prized Abercrombie logo. The New Albany, Ohio-based retailer reported that revenue fell 5.8 percent to $890.6 million, short of analyst estimates. Revenue at stores open at least a year dropped a steep 11 percent, including 8 percent at U.S. stores. The company's earnings per share beat estimates. A&F and other traditional teen stores are facing an uphill battle to turn their businesses around as mall traffic d

  • Oklahoma landowners sue over wind farm plan

    Yesterday

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Seven central Oklahoma landowners filed a federal lawsuit against several companies planning wind farms, expressing concern for the health and safety of local residents. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Oklahoma City by the Oklahoma Wind Action Association names several companies associated with Apex Clean Energy Inc. The Virginia-based company and its partners plan to construct a 300-megawatt project in northern Canadian County and southern Kingfisher County. Terra Walker, an Okarche landowner involved in the lawsuit, said studies show people within three miles of a wind farm can suffer from health effects. She said the wind farm plans include 58 turbines within three miles of her home.

  • Contracts to buy US homes rise in hopeful sign

    Yesterday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in July, a sign that buying has improved as mortgage rates have slipped, the number of listings has risen and the rate of price increases has slowed. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 3.3 percent to 105.9 last month. Still, the index remains 2.1 percent below its level a year ago. Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, called the increase "positive" but stressed that home buying was unlikely to strengthen significantly "Sales cannot rise much more before they hit the fundamental problem that the pool of would-be buyers is just not big enough," Shepherdson said

  • Vivendi, Telefonica in talks over Brazil business

    Yesterday

    MADRID (AP) — French media conglomerate Vivendi said Thursday it would begin exclusive talks with Spanish telecoms company Telefonica for the sale of its Brazilian operator Global Village Telecom, or GVT, after the Spanish company raised its offer to 7.45 billion euros ($9.82 billion) from 6.7 billion euros. Telefonica S.A. says it hopes to combine GVT with its unit Telefonica Brasil to make it the biggest telecom operator in Latin America's largest market. In a statement Thursday, Telefonica said the latest offer included 4.66 billion in cash and 12 percent of the share capital in the new company. The new offer trumps a rival offer from Telecom Italia, which bid 7 billion euros for GVT.

  • Darden delays shareholder meeting

    Yesterday

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Olive Garden's parent company Darden Restaurants said it is postponing its annual meeting to give shareholders enough time to review its proxy materials. Darden, which is based in Orlando, Florida, said the Securities and Exchange Commission is still reviewing its proxy statements but that definitive materials should be distributed to shareholders soon. The company said the meeting will be Oct. 10, instead of the previous date of Sept. 30. The restaurant operator, which also owns The Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse and Seasons 52, had come under fire over its failure to improve results at Olive Garden and Red Lobster, and then its subsequent decision to sell Red Lobster.

  • Survey: Americans' pessimism on economy has grown

    Yesterday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are more anxious about the economy now than they were right after the Great Recession ended despite stock market gains, falling unemployment and growth moving closer to full health. Seventy-one percent of Americans say they think the recession exerted a permanent drag on the economy, according to a survey being released Thursday by Rutgers University. By contrast, in November 2009, five months after the recession officially ended, the Rutgers researchers found that only 49 percent thought the downturn would have lasting damage. And that was when the unemployment rate was 9.9 percent, compared with the current 6.2 percent. "They're more negative than they were five years ago," said Rutgers p

  • Ukraine fears weigh on global stock markets

    Yesterday

    Worsening tensions in Ukraine are sending markets lower, overshadowing an encouraging report on U.S. economic growth. Ukraine's president declared that Russian forces have entered his country and called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 64 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,056 as of 9:35 a.m. Thursday. The Dow has risen for the previous three days and it still higher for the week. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell seven points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,992. The Nasdaq composite fell 17 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,552. European markets also fell. Germany's DAX lost 1.4 percent and France's CAC-40 fell 0.7 percent. Bond prices rose as investors sough

  • Applications for US unemployment aid slip to 298K

    Yesterday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 298,000, a low level that signals employers are cutting few jobs and hiring is likely to remain strong. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped to 299,750, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's just 6,000 higher than four weeks ago, when the average fell to the lowest level in more than eight years. "The downward trend ... is now clear and strong," said Ian Shepherdson, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. Shepherdson forecasts that employers added 250,000 jobs this month. Applications are a proxy for layoffs.

  • Applications for US unemployment benefits dip to 298K, remain near pre-recession lows

    Yesterday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Applications for US unemployment benefits dip to 298K, remain near pre-recession lows.

  • US economy grew at brisk 4.2 percent rate in April-June quarter, faster than first estimated

    Yesterday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — US economy grew at brisk 4.2 percent rate in April-June quarter, faster than first estimated.

  • Binghamton U builds $70M energy research hub

    Yesterday

    BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (AP) — A $70 million research hub for the development of energy-efficient technologies is under construction at Binghamton University. Ground was broken Wednesday on the university's 114,000-square-foot Smart Energy Research and Development Facility, which is expected to create hundreds of jobs. The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reports (http://press.sn/1vSuhiQ ) that the building will house the school's physics and chemistry departments. Researchers at the facility will study solar power, fuel cells and other energy-related issues. The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

  • US fund in deal to build Myanmar solar plants

    Yesterday

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A U.S investment group has signed a $480 million deal to build two solar energy plants in central Myanmar, one of the largest investments by an American firm since the easing of U.S. sanctions. The agreement, inked by the ACO Investment Group and the Ministry of Energy, is aimed at helping ease electricity shortages in the country of 60 million, which only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule and self-imposed isolation. Due to years of neglect, mismanagement and squandered wealth, three-quarters of the population still live without electricity, a situation that is even direr in rural areas. With experts estimating that energy demand could double within the next five years, the governm

  • PetroChina profit up 4 percent as gas sales rise

    Yesterday

    BEIJING (AP) — State-owned PetroChina, East Asia's biggest oil producer, said Thursday its first-half profit rose 4 percent as sales of gasoline and natural gas increased. PetroChina Ltd. earned 68.1 billion yuan ($11.2 billion), or 0.37 yuan (6 U.S. cents) per share, in the six months ended June 30. Revenue rose 4.8 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan ($180 billion). Gasoline consumption rose 1.3 percent by volume but sales rose 9.7 percent after increases in state-set prices. Natural gas sales rose 8.9 percent after an increase in prices. PetroChina's parent company, China National Petroleum Corp., has been embroiled in a corruption scandal. Its former head, Zhou Yongkang, and other present and former executives are under

  • Vermont utility gets approval to reduce rates

    Yesterday

    MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Customers of Vermont's largest electric utility are going to be seeing their rates go down. On Wednesday the Vermont Public Service Board approved a request by Green Mountain Power to reduce its rates. The board approved a rate reduction of 2.46 percent. The decrease takes effect on Oct. 1. GMP says it is its second GMP rate reduction in three years.