BUSINESS

BUSINESS NEWS AT A GLANCE

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

MANY DETECT SHIFT BY FED ON PROGRAM TO BUY BONDS

The Federal Reserve has made clear that its $85 billion a month bond-buying campaign will not continue at the present pace for much longer. Almost from the outset of the campaign last fall, some Fed officials have expressed doubts about the economic benefits and concern about the consequences of a deepening commitment to a relatively untested approach to monetary policy. Analysts generally expect the Fed’s policymaking committee, which meets on Tuesday and Wednesday, to once again defer any changes in the program, although a spate of stronger economic news has increased the odds of a policy shift.

U.S. OIL PRODUCTION PROJECTED TO SURGE, LEADING TO LOWER PRICES

Domestic oil production will continue to soar for years to come, the Energy Department predicted Monday, scaling to levels not seen in nearly half a century by 2016. The annual outlook by the department’s Energy Information Agency was cited by experts as confirmation that the United States was well on its way — far faster than anticipated even a year ago — to achieving virtual energy independence. The report predicted that the increase in U.S. production would contribute to a decline in the world oil benchmark price over the next few years to $92 a barrel in 2017 from a 2012 average of $112 a barrel, which should translate into lower prices at the pump for consumers.

GM TO INVEST $1.3 BILLION TO UPGRADE 5 MIDWEST FACTORIES

After a year of big profits and surging sales in the United States, the U.S. automakers are investing heavily in their domestic operations in anticipation of more good times to come. General Motors, the nation’s largest auto company, said Monday it would spend about $1.3 billion to upgrade five factories in the Midwest, including a major overhaul of one of its highly profitable truck plants. The news followed Ford Motor’s announcement last week that it was hiring 5,000 workers next year and introducing 16 new vehicles in North America.

APPLE SAYS ‘BEYONCÉ’ SET A RECORD ON ITUNES

Beyoncé’s surprise album release last week was celebrated by some commentators as a herald of things to come in the music industry, and dismissed by others as a mere stunt. But by sheer sales numbers, it was an unqualified success. The record, “Beyoncé” (Columbia), appeared on Apple’s iTunes store at midnight Thursday with no warning. Yet Apple reported Monday that it became the fastest-selling album in its history, with 828,773 around the world in its first three days, including 617,213 in the United States. It reached No. 1 on iTunes’ sales rankings in 104 countries. In the United States, albums are typically released on Tuesdays.

INSIDER TRADING TRIAL OF FORMER SAC MANAGER GOES TO THE JURY

The fate of a former top trader for the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors will soon hinge on whether or not jurors believe the government’s star witness, a technology analyst who has pleaded guilty to insider trading. The trial of the portfolio manager, Michael S. Steinberg, who is accused of trading technology stocks after receiving confidential information from the SAC analyst, will go to the jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday. Wrapping up his defense Monday, Steinberg’s lawyer, Barry H. Berke, called the analyst, Jon Horvath, a liar. “If you don’t believe something a witness says, you can reject his entire testimony,” Berke told the jury.

SEC CALLS FOR STIFF FINES FOR A FORMER GOLDMAN TRADER

Four months after being found liable for defrauding investors in a soured mortgage deal, Fabrice Tourre now faces a stiff financial penalty for his actions. The Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed Monday that it is seeking $910,000 in fines against Tourre, a former Goldman Sachs vice president whose defeat handed the government its first big legal victory in a case arising from the financial crisis. The government is also seeking the forfeiture of $175,463 in ill-gotten gains, along with $62,858.03 in interest. Tourre, 34, was found liable for six of seven counts of civil fraud.

USEC, ENRICHER OF URANIUM FOR U.S., SEEKS BANKRUPTCY

USEC, the sole American company in the uranium enrichment business, said Monday that it would file for bankruptcy early next year, although it hopes to keep operating. The company, which has received $257 million in Energy Department aid in the last two years, is a former government enterprise that the Reagan administration privatized. But like Amtrak and the Postal Service, other quasi-private entities created by the government, USEC has found life in the private sector rough going. It plans to complete testing on prototype centrifuges and build more of them to offer enrichment on a commercial basis.

BP AND OMAN AGREE TO DEVELOP GAS FIELD

Oman and the global oil giant BP said Monday that they had agreed to jointly develop a major, technically challenging natural gas field, called Khazzan, in the country’s desert interior. BP plans to use approaches relatively new to the Middle East, including horizontal wells and advanced hydraulic fracturing, to release gas that is tightly embedded in sandstone. Some of the wells are likely to be as deep as 4,500 meters (approximately 15,000 feet). If successful, the BP project could be a precursor to other so-called unconventional natural gas extraction efforts in the Persian Gulf region and North Africa.