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April 2, 2014 | By Walter Hamilton
At a time when public trust in Wall Street already is at a low, new allegations about high-speed stock trading threaten to further erode confidence in the financial markets. The furor centers on accusations that professional traders armed with ultra-fast computers have rigged the stock market. High-speed firms engage in what critics say amounts to insider trading, using super-charged systems to decipher trading patterns. Criticism of high-frequency trading has long swirled in financial circles, and multiple regulators are conducting investigations.
March 31, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel and Adolfo Flores
Three north Orange County cities scrambled Monday to reopen roads and buildings following a magnitude 5.1 quake that snapped water lines, damaged chimneys and left a well-traveled thoroughfare covered in dirt and boulders. Still, as the workweek began and the extent of damage came into sharper focus, city officials said it appeared the cities along the Los Angeles County border had been lightly touched despite the size of the quake and the continuing aftershocks. The biggest concern was Carbon Canyon Road, which remained closed Monday as a result of a rock slide Friday, said Anna Cave, emergency preparedness coordinator in Brea.
March 31, 2014 | By Steve Chawkins
Mark Stock, a painter known for his evocative portraits of white-gloved butlers and sad, stylish women in slinky gowns, has died. He was 62. Stock, who died Wednesday at an Oakland hospital, had an enlarged heart, his publicist Charlotte Parker said. His most famous painting, "The Butler's in Love - Absinthe," a study of a butler scrutinizing a lipstick smear on an empty glass, inspired a short David Arquette film, "The Butler's in Love" (2008). It is one of more than 100 Stock paintings featuring butlers, often in poses suggesting suppressed longing or brooding disappointment.
March 27, 2014 | By S. Irene Virbila
Ten years ago, it would have been difficult to find more than a few brands of mezcal around town. Now most wine shops that also sell liquor have at least a few of the best-known labels. And some have gone deep into the subject with dozens of labels and expressions of mezcal. Here's where to start your education and, in some cases, get an advanced degree in this fascinating spirit. Bar & Garden: Small but well-curated selection, including Alipús, Fidencio, Ilegal, Los Nahuales.
March 26, 2014 | By Walter Hamilton
The value of stock buybacks by U.S. companies jumped in the fourth quarter of last year, led by repurchases by Apple Inc. and other technology giants. Companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 repurchased $126 billion of stock in the fourth quarter and $477.6 billion in all of 2013, according to FactSet Research Systems. The fourth-quarter level was about the same as the third-quarter amount but was up 28.5% from the last three months of 2012. In part because of pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn, Apple bought back nearly $27 billion of stock in 2013.
March 25, 2014 | By Stuart Pfeifer
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles dismissed criminal charges against nine people in a $30-million stock-manipulation case after concluding that misstatements in obtaining court approval for key wiretap recordings made the evidence unusable at trial. The dismissals were an embarrassing setback for prosecutors who were bursting with pride last year when they announced the indictments, the result of a three-year investigation. U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr. said investigators had relied heavily on wiretap evidence, which is rarely used in white-collar cases.
March 23, 2014 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: In 2007, my parents signed over their house deed to my name. Does this trigger the gift tax? They never filled out a gift tax form. Is it too late? Dad has passed on but Mom is still with us. She has Alzheimer's disease, and I have her power of attorney. Are there no taxes due because of the lifetime exclusion? Answer: Yes, a gift tax return should have been filed, but no, the gift tax itself almost certainly wasn't triggered. In 2007, each of your parents would have had to give away more than $1 million in their lifetimes before gift tax would be owed.
March 21, 2014 | By Walter Hamilton
A week-long rally in the stock market carried the Standard & Poor's 500 index to an intraday record Friday morning, the latest indication that investors worry more about missing potential gains than suffering losses. Stocks have been buoyed this week by generally positive economic data that have eased concerns about the potential for interest rates to rise next year. Stocks also have overcome geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia, brushing aside the brinkmanship over the future of Crimea and the Ukraine.
March 14, 2014 | By Walter Hamilton
The stock market closed out its worst week since January, weighed down early by doubts about China's economic growth, uninspiring economic data in the U.S. and finally geopolitical tension in Russia. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 2.4% for the week, saddling it with a 3.1% loss so far this year. The index was off 43.22 points Friday, at 16,065.67, after skidding 231.19 points Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2% for the week, leaving it down 0.4% for the year.
March 13, 2014 | By Alan Eyerly
By killing a disillusioned combat veteran bent on murder, FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) averts an international crisis -- and supposedly scores points with his Russian mistress -- on Episode 3 (“The Walk-In”) of “The Americans” on FX. Bruce Demeran (Erik Jensen), a mysterious visitor to the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., took a bullet for his country in Vietnam. Now his outlook is radically different as he regards the “real enemy” as not Viet Cong guerrillas but wealthy World Bank executives “who own everything.” Armed with a sniper rifle, Bruce is about to gun down the financiers as they enter a hotel.
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