Business briefs for Thursday


    First Posted: 4/10/2013

    S&P at an all-time high

    Technology stocks roared back Wednesday, driving the Standard & Poor’s 500 and Dow Jones industrial average to record highs.

    The industry has lagged the broader market this year, but surged after network communication company Adtran reported earnings that were double what Wall Street analysts expected. That boosted optimism that businesses will increase spending on technology equipment.

    Chipmakers Micron and Intel jumped, as did other network equipment makers such as Cisco and JDS Uniphase. Stocks were also up on an optimistic reading of the Federal Reserve Bank’s latest minutes.

    Taco Bell eyes healthy choices

    Taco Bell isn’t putting down the chalupa just yet, but it’s embarking on a push to shake its reputation as a purveyor of junk food.

    The fast-food chain announced Wednesday that it’s exploring ways to offer more balanced choices and transparency. In a call with reporters, CEO Greg Creed said that could mean new products and reformulations of existing offerings.

    Creed said the chain is testing a “range of products” this year, with national launches planned for 2014. He declined to provide more details on the test products but noted that the company would remain true to its brand.

    By 2020, Taco Bell says 20 percent of its combo meals will meet nutritional guidelines for calories and fat set out by the federal government. It did not immediately know what portion of meals currently meet those guidelines.

    SEC off hook for Madoff

    Investors in Bernard Madoff’s epic fraud cannot hold the Securities and Exchange Commission responsible for failing to expose his decades-long Ponzi scheme, despite its “regrettable inaction,” a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

    The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan followed a similar decision by a San Francisco-based appeals court in January. Both rejected lawsuits by investors seeking to make the agency pay for failing to discover the fraud.

    The “SEC’s actions, along with its regrettable inaction,” are shielded by rules protecting government employees from lawsuits when they act — or fail to act — based on judgment, rather than ignoring a statute or regulation, the court in New York wrote.

    Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to fraud and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

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