WASHINGTON (AP) — ___
Silicon Valley boom eludes many, drives income gap
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The tens of thousands of workers who help fuel the Silicon Valley's tech boom can't make ends meet anymore.
Silicon Valley is entering a fifth year of unfettered growth. The median household income is $90,000. The average single-family home sells for about $1 million. The airport is adding an $82 million private jet center. The river of money flowing through it has doubled housing costs in the past five years while wages for low- and middle-skilled workers are stagnant.
Nurses, preschool teachers, security guards and landscapers commute, sometimes for hours, from less-expensive suburbs and some workers get meals from food pantries.
The widening income gap between the wealthy and the rest is sparking debate, anger and sporadic protests.
Target exec's departure puts spotlight on CIOs
NEW YORK (AP) — The departure of Target's chief information officer in the wake of the company's massive data breach highlights the increased pressure on executives charged with protecting corporate computer systems.
Years ago, the job focused mainly on the upkeep of computer systems in a largely behind-the-scenes role. But the rise of computer crime and increased use of smartphones and tablets in recent years changed the job description, giving CIOs more technology to manage and new points of entry for hackers to breach their systems.
CIOs from companies in all walks of business —from retail to banking and drug discovery — are using the breach as a rallying point to call attention to their struggle and garner additional funds and manpower to fight digital threats.
Stock and housing gains put US net worth at record
WASHINGTON (AP) — A surging stock market and rebounding home prices boosted Americans' wealth to a record in the final three months of last year, though both trends have slowed so far in 2014.
U.S. household net worth jumped nearly $3 trillion during last year's fourth quarter to $80.7 trillion. Stock and mutual fund portfolios gained nearly $1.7 trillion, or 9 percent, according to a Thursday report by the Federal Reserve.
The value of Americans' homes rose just over $400 billion, a 2 percent gain. And checking account balances, pensions plan assets and retirement savings, also increased.
Albertsons parent Cerberus to buy Safeway
PLEASANTON, Calif. (AP) — Safeway says it has agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by Cerebus Capital Management, the owner of Albertsons and several other supermarket chains.
The acquisition is worth about $7.64 billion in cash, and pending other transactions could top more than $9 billion.
It comes amid ongoing consolidation in the supermarket industry, which is facing growing competition from big-box retailers, specialty chains, drug stores and even dollar stores.
Cerberus bought five chains including Albertson's and Jewel-Osco from Supervalu Inc. last year. Kroger Co. also recently snapped up regional chain Harris Teeter.
China takes aim at pollution after years of growth
PINGSHAN COUNTY, China (AP) — Combatting pollution in China has shot up the agenda of the ruling Communist Party, which for years pushed for rapid economic development with little concern about the environmental impact.
Under public pressure to reduce the air pollution that blankets Beijing and cities across China, the country's leaders are rebalancing their priorities. Premier Li Keqiang says the government will "declare war" on pollution in the same way China had fought poverty.
This adds impetus to the government's campaign over the past several years to reduce excess production capacity in the polluting steel and cement industries. But shutting plants has taken a human and economic toll in lost jobs and income.
Staples to close 225 stores as sales move online
Staples has become the second major chain to announce the mass closing of stores this week, providing the latest evidence of how the retail landscape is being remade by shifts in American shopping habits.
The nation's largest office-supply company said Thursday that nearly half of its sales are now generated online, and it is working aggressively to cut costs and become more efficient. It aims to close more than 10 percent of its North American stores by the end of next year, up to 225 stores, as part of a plan to save about $500 million.
Staples Chairman and CEO Ron Sargent said the stores have fallen short of expectations over the past three years, and the company launched a plan last year reinvent Staples.
NYC prosecutor: Execs lied as law firm collapsed
NEW YORK (AP) — Three former executives conspired to hide a law firm's snowballing financial problems from auditors and even their own partners as it headed toward collapse in the nation's biggest law firm bankruptcy, prosecutors said Thursday.
Dewey & LeBouef LLP ex-chairman Steven Davis, former chief executive Stephen DiCarmine and former chief financial officer Joel Sanders are accused of "concocting and overseeing a massive effort to cook the books," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said as he unveiled fraud and other charges against them.
The former execs say they did nothing but strive — legally — to save a struggling firm from the vise of the 2008 financial meltdown.
FTC says ADT settles deceptive reviews charges
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. regulators said Thursday that ADT Corp. has settled charges that it deceived consumers by paying people to recommend its home security products on media outlets without disclosing their connection to the company.
The Federal Trade Commission said ADT paid child-safety, home-security and technology experts more than $300,000 to promote its ADT Pulse security system online and on TV, including during a January 2011 segment on NBC's "Today" show.
The paid endorsers were introduced by show hosts and reporters as experts and their connection to ADT was never revealed. The endorsers also talked about other products, making the segment look as if it was an unbiased review.
Kroger: Storm response helped boost sales
NEW YORK (AP) — Kroger said its ability to keep its supermarkets open and well-stocked as customers rushed to hoard groceries ahead of winter storms helped boost its results in the fourth quarter.
The nation's largest supermarket operator on Thursday said a key sales figure climbed for the period and issued a better-than-expected profit for the year ahead.
The positive benefit of the winter weather is in contrast to many other companies that have cited the conditions for weaker results. At Kroger, which operates Ralphs, Fry's, Food 4 Less and other chains, executives noted that one of the benefits is that people don't stick to shopping lists when stocking up before storms.
The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 61.71 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,421.89. The Nasdaq composite fell 5.85 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,352.13. The S&P 500 index rose 3.22 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,877.03.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil for April delivery rose 11 cents to close at $101.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude gained 34 cents to $108.10 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.95 per gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $2.98 per gallon. Natural gas gained 14 cents to $4.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.