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tv   Nightly Business Report  PBS  February 25, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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captioning sponsored by wpbt >> what i am hoping to accomplish today is for everybody to focus not just on where we differ, but focus on where we agree. >> tom: and with that, president obama kicked off a last-ditch effort to bring republicans and democrats together on health reform. but tensions still ran high during the marathon meeting. >> here we are having a conversation about creating a new entitlement program that will bankrupt this country, and it will bankrupt our country. >> susie: this small business owner and this physician overseeing a large hospital system give us their reaction to the health care summit. you're watching "nightly business report" for thursday, february 25.
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this is "nightly business report" with susie gharib and tom hudson. "nightly business report" is made possible by:
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this program was made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> tom: good evening, everyone. more clashes than consensus today in washington on what to do about health care reform. president obama played host and referee between democrats and republicans at a health care summit that's being called "historic". >> susie: tom, they talked and talked for over seven hours. the debate was intense, but civil. everyone seemed to agree on the high cost of health care, but they didn't come together on how to reform the american health care system. >> tom: susie, as the president wrapped up the marathon session, he said there's no time for another year of debate on the issue and he urged republicans to re-think their oppostition. >> i'd like the republicans to
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do a little soul-searching to see if there are some things you'd be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance. >> susie: while the debate >> he made it clear that that his father party wants to start over with a different focus. >> make that our goal, reducing health-care costs, and start over. and let's go step-by-step toward that goal. >> susie: while the debate played out in washington, what was the reaction in the rest of the country? we watched the summit with two people who are impacted by what happens next in healthcare: the chief medical officer at the university of miami health system. he oversees one of the largest hospital systems in the country. and a small business owner in chicago. did they hear what they wanted to hear today? we begin with diane eastabrook in chicago.
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>> reporter: for abt electronics and appliances, health care is the company's third highest cost, just behind labor and inventory. that's why owner mike abt watched today's health care summit with rapt attention in his store's home theater section. >> i care about my employees a lot, but i care about my customers. and if they don't have insurance, they're not going to be able to buy as much. >> reporter: abt offers health and dental insurance to all of his more than 1,000 workers. some employees opt out in favor of their spouse's plan, and only a small percentage decline his coverage. those workers concern abt. still, he's skeptical about mandatory health insurance for everyone. >> this is america-- we should have a choice. but the people who don't have health care, a lot of times, they cost us so much money. you know, everyone is allowed to go to an emergency room and get treatment, and that costs more than doctors' little clinic that you're going to visit. so i don't think we should force
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people to do anything, but it is a problem. >> reporter: abt also worries about insurance premiums rising too high, and about employees being denied coverage for pre- existing conditions. abt is encouraged by today's summit, but he says what he finds really troubling is that missing from all of this dialogue about health care reform is the issue of illness prevention. >> we opened this when the store was built back in 2000. >> reporter: all abt employees can use this on-sight gym with weight machines and treadmills at no cost. abt realizes not every company can afford something like this, but he thinks more can be done to encourage americans to eat better and live healthier lives. >> it's easy to look at an illness and treat it and deal with it and give medicine, and all of that costs a lot of money. but to have people take care of themselves, eating right, doing fitness stuff, that is really what will save our system, i think. >> reporter: abt thinks congress will pass health care reform. he's just not sure what it will look like. >> i'm just a tv guy, but i absolutely think something should happen. maybe they'll do a little bit, but hopefully they'll do a lot.
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>> reporter: diane eastabrook, "nightly business report," glenview, illinois. >> jeff: this is jeff yastine in miami. we watched the debate with dr. william o'neill, chief medical officer for the university of miami health system. >> the thing that really depresses and startles me is that you don't have any doctors in this discussion, you don't have any hospital administrators, you don't have any insurance reps, no patient advocates. those are the people who are really involved. we're not in the debate. we're just sitting on the sidelines, watching the rest of our future and the rest of healthcare kind of being decided in front of our eyes. the other thing that these guys aren't even talking defenceive-- defensive medine across this country-- cost this country edley 500 million dollars over five years and they're not doing anything on that. so why don't we be real and have a real honest dialogue. if this country can't afford
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that much health care than we're going have to have a method of being able to figure out what we really need and can afford to pay for. >> what happens if there is really no movement at all on health-care reform? what happens for your hospital system? >> well, we'll figure out a way to cover. i mean a lot of the cost shifting that goes on, you start, continue to increase charges to insured patients. and insurance premium was continue to go up. and we're going to continue to struggle with the uncompensated care. >> dr. o'neill oversees a hospital system that serves more than 400,000 patients a year. but he has personal worries over the nation's heal care direction, his own daughter has a life threatening preexisting health condition. she has to choose jobs based on whether the employers health plan will accept her. >> i means that's no good in this country. nobody wants that. we have to figure out how we can cover people that don't have insurance. i means that's a huge problem. and we do have to do
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something about the cost. and i hope that we can get some of those things done, then we will have a much better program. again, we're going to wait and see what happens. >> tom: here are the stories in tonight's n.b.r. newswheel: worries about greece's economic stability pressured stocks today with the blue chips off over 150 points in the early going. but wall street managed to trim its losses by the closing bell. the dow fell 53 points, the nasdaq down 1.5, and the s&p 500 off two. also pressuring stocks, an unexpected jump in weekly jobless benefit claims. claims surged by 22,000 last week to 496,000, their highest level in over three months. there is some promising news for those out of work. late today, the house of representatives voted to extend jobless benefits through april 5. it now moves to the senate. meanwhile, fresh signs of life in the manufacturing sector-- durable goods orders rose 3%
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last month, double what economists estimates thanks to a jump in airplane orders. >> susie: that stock sell-off today was partly because of new concerns about the debt crisis in greece. government regulators are looking into how big banks and wall street firms, including goldman sachs, helped greece disguise the size of its budget deficits. the federal reserve is conducting its own investigation. and fed chairman ben bernanke told lawmakers at a senate banking hearing today that he's reviewing goldman's derivative swaps with greece. >> obviously, using these instruments in a way that intentionally destabilizes a company or a country is... is counterproductive, and i'm sure the s.e.c will be looking into that. we'll certainly be evaluating what we can learn from the activities of the holding companies that we supervise here in the u.s. >> susie: at that same hearing today, bernanke repeated the same message he told house lawmakers yesterday-- he does not plan to raise interest rates anytime soon.
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so, if interest rates remain at historically low levels for many more months, what does that mean for stock investors? suzanne pratt asked some market pros for their opinion on that topic. >> reporter: when federal reserve chairman ben bernanke talks, wall street always pays close attention. that's because there's an inverse relationship between fed policy and stock prices. tighter money usually means stocks move lower, while easy money generally equals higher stock prices. so, if bernanke and company keep the federal funds rate historically low for at least another six months, that should be good for stocks. jefferies strategist craig peckham agrees, forecasting low double-digit returns for the major averages this year. >> i do expect, though, that the first half of 2010 will be an easier environment for stocks to work well, largely because i think the threat of interest rate hikes are off the table until we get to mid-year. >> reporter: history shows the half-year before the fed starts
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to raise rates is a "sweet spot" for stocks. according to standard and poor's, since 1946, the s&p 500 has gained on average nearly 10% in that six-month stretch. that's much better than the six- month average gain of 4%. in an effort to repair the u.s. economy, the fed has kept rates close to zero percent for more than a year. those low rates also helped stocks post serious gains last year. but market pro stephen wood says a repeat of the 2009 stock market rally is unlikely, even if policymakers leave rates unchanged all year. >> given all the challenges and all the headwinds that the market is facing, this could allow the stock market to be range bound or a little bit better than many investors might be expecting. >> reporter: others say investors need to pay close attention to why the fed is keeping rates so low. >> if the economic data stream evolves such that it looks like the sustainability of this recovery comes into question once the stimulative impact is
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removed, than i think it becomes a harder bull case to make for stocks. >> reporter: so, what happens to the stock market when the fed starts to raise rates? it's not as bad as you might think. historically, stocks on average gain close to 3% in six months following the first rate hike. suzanne pratt, "nightly business report," new york. >> tom: still ahead on the program: what the next generation of doctors want from health care reform.
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>> lots of volatility today in the market but mostly stocks were down. >> yeah, they were down although we did pick ourselves up from the triple-digit loss earlier in the day. let's look at the market focus. transportation stocks helped pull the major indices back from the steep sell-off earlier in the day. down by more than 150 points. this exchange traded fund follows the dow transportation average saw leadership from railroad and trucking stocks. those stocks may have been helped by crude oil prices falling below $80 a barrel. that was helped by the dollar falling in price. and that dollar drop helped out gold prices, as it usually does. gold went out today just above $1,100 an ounce. the firmer gold price helped the stocks of gold miners, included in this gold miner exchange traded fund.
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gold stocks and gold prices have been trending lower since early december. newmont mining saw a hugh profit jump, easily beating estimates thanks to the higher price of gold and copper. gold revenue was up 55%. copper sales saw a 10-fold increase. the stock saw twice its normal volume today, rallying to its highest price since mid-january. newmont stock has performed better this month compared to the overall sector. some after-hours action to get you caught up on as it may carry over to tomorrow's session. shares of the gap were up as much as 2% after the bell as its profit jumped 45%. the company also announced a dividend increase and $1 billion stock buyback plan. ahead of the results, gap stock was up fractionally during the regular session on heavier than usual volume. the stock has been slowly climbing since hitting a five month low last month. the drop in fluor stock accelerated after the bell tonight.
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it was down as much as 6% after the close. the construction management company blame a disappointing 2010 forecast. palm stock was one of the most actively traded issues today, with volumes coming close to 100 million shares. palm stock fell out of hand with almost a 20% drop. the handset maker warned that it will miss earnings expectations by a wide margin. it says its taking longer than anticipated for consumers to buy up its newest product offerings. speaking of technology, apple isn't giving any hints about how it wants to use its big cash hoard. at today's shareholder meeting, c.e.o. steve jobs said its $40 billion in cash gives apple flexibility and security. apple stock saw a small gain today. it does not pay a dividend and has resisted calls for a stock buyback. a couple of other noteworthy moves on earnings today. generic and branded drug maker mylan beat estimates on the back of a double-digit sales increase in international drug sales. mylan stock did almost five times volume on today's rally, jumping to its highest price
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since the spring of 2007. auto parts supplier trw roared to a new 52-week high on heavy volume. again, it was a much better than expected fourth quarter. and a big positive note with management projecting first quarter results well ahead of expectations. coca-cola helped lead the way lower for the dow as inva1d5 sold after the company announced its $15 billion buyout of its north american bottler, coca- cola enterprises. the deal will give coke control over about 90% of its sales volume in north america. it is essentially a cashless transaction with coke taking on the bottler's debt and pension obligations. it follows pepsi's buyout of its two bottlers, which is expected to close tomorrow. these deals give the soft drink giants more control over their supply chains in the u.s., where finding sales growth has been difficult. that's why the new focus may be on sales price instead of sales volume. >> i think the focus is going to be a lot more on revenue as opposed to volume.
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if you think through the '80s and '90s, there's been price wars. i think now its going to be the opposite. they'll focus on the total price of the product. they'll focus on revenue management, but not necessarily on market share and on selling large amounts of volume. this could be good for both of the companies because at the end of the day, carbonated soft drinks are very affordable and most of the years of the last 25 they've lagged inflation in terms of pricing >> tom: coke stock saw big volume on the deal and a stiff sell-off. over the past year, k.o. shares are up 26%. competitor pepsi saw fractional buying but as slightly under- performed coke over the past year. pepsi is up 23%. the immediate winner is dr. pepper. both pepsi and coke distribute dr. pepper, and as both pepsi and coke bought their bottlers, dr. pepper gets to re-negotiate those deals. it got $900 million when pepsi did the deal. drs at an all-time high tonight. overlooked may have been dr,
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pepper's earnings, coming in a penny better than expected. and that's tonight's market focus. >> susie: more reaction to today's health care summit. this time from the next generation of physicians. anna olson spoke with some future doctors who are weighing the pros and cons of health care reform against the investment they're making in their education. >> reporter: george washington university medical student jason goldberg has invested countless
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hours of study and over $100,000 to get where he is today. he's a fourth year med student studying pediatrics. goldberg thinks if patients want treatment, health care reform will have to pay doctors fairly. >> we invest a lot into our careers, and we have to make sure that we're getting compensated for the care that we provide so we can continue to provide care for our patients. >> reporter: goldberg thinks the government will eventually end up taking over health care. if that happens, he's counting on lawmakers to keep future physicians out of debt. >> i think we will see a day where medical school tuition will be subsidized by the government. >> reporter: his classmate erik smith has less faith in uncle sam's ability to protect his pocketbook. he says the healthcare reform plans he's seen so far are troublesome. >> i'm concerned that medicine might change into something that's not a realistic career choice for med students. >> reporter: smith is training to become an emergency room doctor, at least for the time
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>> if emergency became a specialty where i just realistically couldn't pay off my loans, then i'd have to reconsider. >> reporter: at a clinic inside a community center called bread for the city's students treat the underserved. students like emily cotter say maintaining the status quo is not an option. >> insurance and having access to a primary care doctor is huge. >> reporter: cotter hopes to work in a community-based health center after she graduates. she says general practitioners aren't paid enough. she'd like the legislation to include more incentives to go into primary care. >> i think a lot of primary care doctors go into the field with great ideas and ideals, and to have to see so many patients in a day just to make ends meet is really difficult. >> i'm not going to do it for the money, because i don't want to be miserable for the rest of my life. >> reporter: nisha varadarajan believes health care is a human right. she'd be willing to be paid less if it meant other people could have access to treatment.
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>> i came into this profession for a reason-- it's to help >> reporter: for these medical students, it's not all about the money. but the reality is, they pay a high price to become a doctor, and need some assurance they can still afford to practice medicine. anna olson, nightly business report, washington. >> tom: here's what we're watching for tomorrow: we'll get the latest take on the fourth quarter g.d.p., january's existing home sales, and we'll see the final february reading on the university of michigan's consumer sentiment index. also tomorrow, we'll see if market monitor guest elaine garzarelli still likes investing in e.t.f.s. she's president of garzarelli capital. >> susie: a long-time employee of admitted ponzi schemer bernard madoff was arrested today. madoff's director of operations, daniel bonventre, is charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, and tax fraud. the feds also accused him of falsifying records. a judge freed him on a $5 million bond. bonventre and his attorney did not comment on the charges.
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the 63-year-old is the sixth person to be criminally charged in the case, including madoff himself, who pleaded guilty and is now in prison. >> tom: united airlines will fly the friendly skies on 25 new boeing 787 dream liners. the airline finalized its order today, which includes an option to buy 50 more of those planes. the price tag is more than $4 billion. united expects to take delivery of the dream liners in 2016. the new planes will replace older boeing models flying international routes. the dream liner is more fuel efficient, allowing airliners like united to add new nonstop international routes.
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>> susie: at today's congressional testimony, the fed chief weighed in on china's large holdings of u.s. assets, saying they could pose a risk to our financial system. ben bernanke suggested we'd be better off if china saved less and we saved more. tonight's commentator is also worried about our largest trading partner. he's leo hindery, managing partner at inter-media partners, and chairman of the u.s. economy smart globalization initiative at the new america foundation. >> america's great recession has turned into china's great opportunity. american companies have cut both their payrolls and their capital spending and have driven business to china at the same time that chinese manufacturers are boosting their global competitiveness through massive subsidies from their central government.
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in just the last year, chinas share of our nations trade deficit in manufactured goods jumped from 69% to an almost unbelievable 80% today, while its share of u.s. imports overall increased 20%. no responsible american economist disagrees with president obama's assessment that china's currency is significantly undervalued compared to the u.s. dollar. yet currency manipulation is actually just the tip of the chinese trade iceberg. something on the order of 90% of chinas domination in manufactured goods vis-a-vis the u.s. is due to its subsidies to manufacturers and to its extremely low environmental standards. the obama administration and congress must consider a host of responses, including going after all of chinas illegal subsidies, adopting "buy american" requirements related to all federal government procurement, and reviewing in advance proposed investments in
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companies and technologies critical to our nation. the u.s. is in the grips of a major economic and unemployment crisis made much worse by the bad behavior of one of our largest trading partners. it's way past time that we did something about it. >> susie: that's "nightly business report" for thursday, february 25. i'm susie gharib. good night, everyone, and good night to you, too, tom. >> tom: good night, susie. i'm tom hudson. good night, everyone. we hope to see all of you again tomorrow night. "nightly business report" is made possible by: this program was made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by wpbt
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