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July 16, 2011 | By Vincent Bevins, Los Angeles Times
At the height of Brazil's biggest economic boom in a generation, the Schmidt Bros. shoe factory in the southwestern city of Campo Grande was shutting its doors this spring and sending thousands of employees packing. "Hopefully, most of the workers are finding new jobs in the shoe industry," said Heitor Klein, director of the Brazilian Footwear Industries Assn., "because they had become highly skilled workers after spending their lives there. " Klein puts much of the blame on cheap imports from China, which he accuses of dumping goods at under-market prices by simply routing them through other countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, in what he called a violation of international trade laws.
July 4, 2011 | By Leah Rozen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Among the many familiar faces (Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel) in the raunchy new comedy "Bad Teacher" is one not so familiar — and one who nearly steals the movie. British actress Lucy Punch plays the role of Amy Squirrel, a goody two-shoes middle-school teacher in Chicago who is engaged in a very dirty little war with Diaz over a man and the hearts and minds of children. The film opened to surprisingly big box office ($31.6 million in its opening weekend) and mixed reviews, although even critics who didn't like the movie singled out Punch for praise for her gung-ho turn.
May 25, 2011 | Reuters
U.S. regulators launched one of the biggest ever crackdowns on oil price manipulation Tuesday, suing two well-known traders and two trading firms owned by Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen for allegedly making $50 million by squeezing markets in 2008. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said traders James Dyer of Oklahoma's Parnon Energy and Nick Wildgoose of Europe-based Arcadia Energy amassed large physical positions at a key U.S. trading hub to create the impression of tight supplies that would boost oil prices.
May 12, 2011 | By Tom Petruno, Los Angeles Times
Energy prices led a renewed plunge in commodities Wednesday after government data showed accumulating stockpiles of crude oil and gasoline — and weaker demand. A fresh surge in the dollar also helped depress the market for raw materials by raising the cost of commodities for foreign buyers. Crude futures for delivery next month tumbled $5.67, or 5.4%, to $98.21 a barrel in New York trading, their second decline below the $100 mark since late last week. Gasoline futures plunged 26 cents, or 7.6%, to $3.12 a gallon.
May 11, 2011 | By Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times
David Rubio stands high on a hill looking over the desert, where hundreds of white wind turbines spin in the dry air. Rubio promises that he'll soon be hiring, but the jobs won't involve those high-tech windmills. The work will be in the mine shaft beneath him, where his employer, Golden Queen Mining Co., plans to extract millions of ounces of gold and silver. "We'll be the first new mine in 20 years," he says, turning toward Soledad Mountain, where a ladder is just visible through a tunnel.
May 7, 2011 | Tom Petruno, Market Beat
Stock prices are supposed to do a decent job of foreshadowing economic turning points, both good and bad. In March 2009, just when it looked as if the U.S. economy was facing a final meltdown, the equity market rebounded from 12-year lows — correctly assessing that the end wasn't nigh, after all. Last fall, when stocks began to roar again after stumbling through the summer, the bullish case was that the economy finally was on the verge...
May 6, 2011 | By Tom Petruno, Los Angeles Times
The stampede into commodities has become a mad rush for the exits. The market for raw materials staged a blistering retreat Thursday as fresh economic data revived worries about global economic growth and as selling fed on itself. Crude oil in New York plunged almost $10 a barrel, with near-term futures closing below $100 a barrel for the first time in seven weeks. Silver, which had been on a tear this year, sank for the fourth straight day, leaving it down 25% from a 31-year high set a week ago. The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB index, a broad gauge of raw-material prices, sank 4.9% its fourth straight decline and its biggest drop this year.
May 5, 2011 | By Tom Petruno, Los Angeles Times
Silver prices plunged for a third straight day, leading a broad sell-off in commodities in the wake of some weaker-than-expected economic data and indications that some big-name investors are turning away from precious metals. Until this week, silver was one of this year's hottest investments worldwide. On Wednesday, the near-term silver futures contract tumbled $3.19, or 7.5%, to $39.38 an ounce, the lowest price since April 4. Since reaching a 31-year high of $48.58 an ounce Friday, silver has plummeted 19%. But the metal, which had become a favorite bet of small investors, remains up 27% year to date.
April 30, 2011 | Tom Petruno, Market Beat
There are few worse feelings for investors than to suspect that they were the last ones into a red-hot market. So it was with the dot-com stock mania of the late 1990s and the California housing bubble of the last decade. Many of the last entrants to those markets, if they weren't quick to jump, suffered catastrophic losses when the booms turned to bust. This year, investors tempted by soaring commodity prices may have that same gnawing fear of being too late to the party. This is, after all, the second big commodity bull run in three years.
April 11, 2011 | By Greg Robb
WASHINGTON — The world economic recovery is set to continue over the next two years and will not be derailed by the earthquake in Japan or the surge in commodity prices, according to the results of the latest global checkup released Monday by the International Monetary Fund. The world economy is set to grow 4.4% in 2011, down slightly from 5% in 2010. Growth will accelerate slightly to 4.5% in 2012. In the U.S., growth will stay at 2.8% this year before accelerating to 2.9% next year.
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