Metro area prices rise in Jan.
Prices in the metropolitan area rose last month because of the higher cost of housing and energy. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Thursday reported its consumer price index for the 31-county region that includes Long Island and New York City climbed 2.2 percent in January compared with a year earlier. The rate of increase, year over year, was the highest since April 2012, when it was 2.8 percent. Prices were up 0.5 percent in January compared with December 2012 because of the higher cost of electricity and food. Grocery prices, year over year, were up 2 percent. Among the items costing more were juices, fresh food, pork chops, potatoes, vegetables, tea, cakes, cupcakes, cookies and ice cream, according to the bureau's chief regional economist Martin Kohli. The cost of gasoline increased 3 percent last month compared with January 2012. -- James T. Madore
Cablevision to issue surcharge
Cablevision Systems Corp. said Thursday that some of its television subscribers would pay more for certain services, effective on April 1. A $2.98-per-month "sports programming surcharge" will be applied to Family or Value packages or above. Broadcast Basic and Optimum Economy packages will not be affected. Cablevision executives said the surcharge was needed because of the rising cost of sports programs. "We have not raised our cable television prices in more than two years, even as we have added channels, On Demand content, new TV to GO services and other benefits," said Bradley Feldman, vice president of video product management. Sports accounts for more than one-third of Cablevision's total programming costs. Similar surcharges have been rolled out by Verizon FiOS and DirecTV. Cablevision also is raising the price of its Spanish-language subscription by $2 per month, and its business subscription by $4 per month. The Bethpage-based company owns Newsday. -- James T. Madore
21,535 get mortgage relief
Thousands of New York homeowners have gotten an estimated $1.8 billion in loan relief from five U.S. banks as part of the national mortgage settlement over foreclosure abuses. So far, 21,535 New York homeowners have received assistance, including $1.2 billion in principal reductions and refinancing that lowers interest rates on their mortgages, said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. In 2012 Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial agreed to a $25-billion penalty, with at least $17 billion going directly to borrowers.
Apple dissenter makes case
A Wall Street maverick who wants Apple to share more of its wealth with investors took his case to other shareholders Thursday, urging them to send management a message by voting against a company proposal at the upcoming annual meeting. David Einhorn, founder of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, laid out his case for "iPrefs," a class of dividend-bearing preferred stock he wants the company to issue as a way of sharing more of its massive profits with shareholders. Apple hands only a small amount of its profits to shareholders; the company's cash hoard amounted to $137 billion at the end of last year.
U.S. existing-home sales rise
U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years, a sign the housing market is maintaining its recovery and helping to bolster the economy. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday sales rose 0.4 percent in January compared with December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. That was the second-highest sales pace since November 2009, when a temporary home buyer tax credit boosted sales.-- AP