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Area consumer confidence dips; other business briefs


Consumer confidence dips

Consumer confidence in the New York metropolitan area dipped in March on worries about the rising cost of gasoline. The Siena College Research Institute Wednesday reported its consumer confidence index for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs was 79.9 last month, down 2.5 points from February. Readings above 76 indicate the number of people who are optimistic about their economic well-being exceeds those who are pessimistic. Fifty-four percent of metro-area residents polled told Siena that the cost of gasoline was either a very serious or somewhat serious problem, up 3 percentage points from February. There was no change, month over month, in the number of people concerned about grocery prices: 63 percent. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. -- James T. Madore

Guilty plea in Goldman loss

A former Goldman Sachs trader pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday, admitting that he caused his company to lose $118 million in 2007 when he put $8 billion at risk. Matthew Marshall Taylor, 34, said he took the position on a futures contract traded electronically through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in December 2007 to enhance his reputation and boost his earnings in a year when he made $150,000 in salary and $1.6 million in bonuses. According to court papers filed in Manhattan, Taylor lied to company representatives to cover up the fact that he had put 10 times more money at risk in the trade than he was allowed.


Analyst: Apple 'iTV' due in '13

It's no secret Apple wants to get into the living room by making its own TV set, and there have been plenty of rumors and reports about how and when it's going to happen. Now an analyst says he's learned the set will go on sale late this year, for $1,500 to $2,500. In a research note Wednesday, Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets said the "iTV" will be 60 inches on the diagonal, but could also come in 50- and 55-inch versions. Apple will also release a small "iRing" that fits on the viewer's finger, allowing the user to control the screen by pointing, White says. The set will come with tabletlike "mini iTVs;" the iTV will be able to send video to the smaller screens wirelessly around the house. White says his report is based on gleanings from visits with unnamed Chinese and Taiwanese companies that supply Apple with components. Apple doesn't comment on future products before its launch events.

Survey finds growing thrift

Americans have grown more cautious and disciplined in handling their money since the financial crisis struck in 2008, a survey by a leading mutual fund company suggests. People say they don't spend as much, save as little or embrace as much risk as they did before the crisis, according to a survey of nearly 1,200 people by Fidelity Investments. Forty-two percent of survey respondents said they're contributing more to workplace savings plans such as 401(k)s or to individual retirement accounts or health-savings accounts. And 72 percent said they have less personal debt than before the crisis.

Growth in small-business loans

Small-business lending is showing small signs of growth, according to data compiled by the government. The total amount of small business loans outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter came to $586 billion, up from $584 billion in the third quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That was the first quarterly gain in small-business lending since the FDIC began tracking loans on a quarterly basis at the start of 2010. Despite the year-end improvement, the lending environment for small business remains weak. The December number was down from $598 billion in the final quarter of 2011 and $626 billion at the end of 2010. -- AP

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