Wholesale stockpiles down
U.S. wholesalers cut their restocking in February by the most in 17 months. But their sales jumped, suggesting companies underestimated consumer demand.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that stockpiles at the wholesale level declined 0.3 percent in February. That followed a 0.8 percent increase in January, which was revised lower.
The decline was the first in eight months and the biggest since September 2011. Farm products and gasoline led the drop. Agriculture stockpiles have fallen in recent months because of a drought in the Midwest.
Sales at the wholesale level rose 1.7 percent, the most since November. The increase was led by large gains in gasoline, clothes and computers.
Exxon Mobil found liable
Exxon Mobil Corp. was found liable Tuesday in a long-running lawsuit over groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive MTBE, and the jury ordered the oil giant to pay $236 million to New Hampshire to clean it up.
The jurors reached their verdicts in less than 90 minutes, after sitting through nearly three months of testimony. Lawyers on both sides were stunned by the speed with which they reached the verdict on liability and even more stunned when the jurors took barely 20 minutes more to fill out the damages verdict.
The panel awarded the state all $236 million it was seeking to monitor and remediate groundwater contaminated by MTBE. The chemical was added to gasoline to reduce smog but was found to travel farther and faster in groundwater than gasoline without the additive.
Foreclosure payments on way
The nation’s largest banks will begin sending payments this week to millions of Americans who may have been wrongfully foreclosed on during the housing crisis.
A total of $3.6 billion in cash will be distributed to 4.2 million borrowers who lost their homes or were at risk of foreclosure, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency said Tuesday. Payments will range from $300 to $125,000. About 90 percent of borrowers whose mortgages were serviced by 11 of the banks will receive payments by the end of April, the agencies said.