Last Update on May 21, 2013 07:30 GMT
BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets fell today as investors waited for the U.S. Federal Reserve to telegraph what it plans to do next with its economic stimulus program.
The Fed is conducting its third round of massive bond purchases known as quantitative easing to help drive down interest rates and spur lending. But recently improving data on the U.S. economy has led to speculation that the Fed might consider scaling back the program or winding it down earlier than expected.
Benchmark crude oil rose to near $97 per barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the yen.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company's chief financial officer and its tax chief are scheduled to testify before a Senate subcommittee today. They're expected to face some tough questions.
Their appearance will come a day after a Senate investigation found that Apple Inc. employs a group of affiliate companies located outside the United States to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes.
Although the strategies Apple uses are legal, lawmakers say they raise questions about loopholes in the U.S. tax code.
Apple denies using "tax gimmicks." It says it employs tens of thousands of Americans and pays "an extraordinary amount" in U.S. taxes, citing the roughly $6 billion it paid in fiscal 2012.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Treasury official says the department told the White House twice that the IRS was preparing to make public its targeting of conservative political groups.
The official said Monday that Treasury told the White House in late April about a possible speech in which IRS official Lois Lerner would make a public apology and that outgoing Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller expected to be asked about the issue during congressional testimony. However, the official said Treasury did not give the White House advance warning that Lerner planned to address the issue during a May 10 conference, which she ultimately did.
White House advisers have said President Barack Obama was not told about the IRS targeting before it became public.
The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and insisted on anonymity.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says he will begin tapping into two government employee retirement funds to buy more time before the U.S. Treasury is faced with the prospect of defaulting on the national debt.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Lew said Monday that he would begin tapping the civil service retirement and disability fund and a similar fund that covers retired postal workers. The law allows him to remove investments from these funds to clear room for more borrowing until Congress votes to raise the debt limit.
Lew has said the various bookkeeping measures can provide enough maneuvering room to keep the government from defaulting on its debt until after Labor Day. Earlier this year, Congress voted to temporarily suspend the debt limit but on Sunday that suspension ended.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Fresh on the heels of its $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr, Yahoo says it is rebooting its languishing photo-sharing site Flickr with plans to make it -- quote -- "awesome" again.
Yahoo Inc. said at an event in New York City's Times Square on Monday that it is now offering users 1 terabyte of online storage for free. One terabyte is 1,024 gigabytes -- enough to store more than 500,000 images at a resolution common to most smartphones.
Yahoo has redesigned the Flickr website to emphasize photos rather than text or white space, as was the case previously. Photos are bigger and shared in full resolution rather than compressed into a lower quality.
Flickr also launched a new Android app to follow the December unveiling of a new iPhone app.
CREDIT CARDS-LATE PAYMENTS
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Americans got better about paying their credit card debt on time in the first three months of the year, a period when many borrowers use income tax returns to tackle their holiday season debt.
The rate of credit card payments at least 90 days overdue fell to 0.69 percent in the first quarter from 0.85 percent a year earlier -- drop of nearly 19 percent, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion.
The January-March card delinquency rate was also down from 0.73 in the October-December quarter, when many consumers ramped up credit use to finance holiday season purchases.
HONOLULU (AP) -- Organizers of an annual conference for people who manage more than $3 trillion in public sector pension funds say administrators are skipping this year's meeting in Hawaii to avoid the perception they're wasting money by heading to the island paradise.
Hank Kim is the executive director of the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems. He says roughly 650 attendees are coming to this year's conference, which started Monday in Waikiki. That compares with about 1,000 attendees at last year's weeklong conference in New York.
Kim says trustees and others from around the country are thinking about "headline risk" -- how the trip may be perceived back home.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie defended Hawaii in remarks to open the conference, saying Hawaii is as legitimate a host as any other U.S. city.
UNDATED (AP) -- United Airlines put its 787 back in the air on Monday, with both the airline and Boeing hoping to put the plane's four-month grounding behind them.
The flight from Houston to Chicago was just the kind of 787 flight that airlines are hoping for: uneventful.
Smoldering batteries on two 787s owned by other airlines prompted authorities to ground the planes in January. The failure of Boeing's newest, flashiest and most important plane embarrassed the company.
Both United CEO Jeff Smisek and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney were on board Monday's flight.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health regulators say an experimental insomnia drug from Merck can help patients fall asleep. But it also carries worrisome side effects, including daytime drowsiness and suicidal thinking.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday released its review of the company's sleep aid, suvorexant, ahead of a public meeting on Wednesday. The pill works by temporarily blocking chemical messengers that keep people awake.
The FDA will ask a panel of outside experts to vote on questions of the drug's safety and effectiveness.