Business digest: Netanyahu, Brown sign pro-business deal in California

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Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 12:00 am

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a swing through the Silicon Valley Wednesday to meet with high-tech leaders and sign a pro-business agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown.

During a meeting at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, the two emphasized their joint interests in cybersecurity, energy sources and water conservation, and suggested Israel — an arid country with a growing population — might be able to help California cope with its drought.

“California doesn’t need to have a water problem,” Netanyahu said. “Israel has no water problems because we are the number one recyclers of wastewater, we stop water leaks, we use drip irrigation and desalination.”

Brown said he would welcome the ideas.

“Israel has demonstrated how efficient a country can be, and there is a great opportunity for collaboration,” Brown said.

This was the first California visit from an Israeli prime minister since 2006, and Netanyahu planned stops at Stanford University and Apple Inc., as well as a meeting with WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, a Jewish Ukrainian immigrant who sold his company to Facebook Inc. for $19 billion last month. — AP

Exxon to cut spending

NEW YORK — Exxon Mobil Corp. says it will cut capital spending by 6 percent this year and overall production will be flat.

The nation’s biggest oil company said Wednesday that it will spend $39.8 billion on energy projects and other costs this year, down from $42.5 billion last year.

Exxon said that barring acquisitions, annual spending will average less than $37 billion from 2015 to 2017.

Production is expected to be the equivalent of 4 million barrels of oil per day, the same as 2013 after excluding an expired deal in the United Arab Emirates and partial sale of a project in Iraq, the company said. In 2015 through 2017, production is expected to rise by about 100,000 barrels per day each year. — AP

Yellen: More work for Fed

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the Fed has more to do to reach its goals for inflation and unemployment, and to repair damage from the financial crisis.

“Too many Americans still can’t find a job or are forced to work part time,” Yellen said at her ceremonial swearing-in event Wednesday in Washington. While the central bank’s mandates of full employment and stable prices are clear, “it is equally clear that the economy continues to operate considerably short of these objectives,” she said.

The Fed, in its Beige Book review of regional conditions, said Wednesday the economy in most districts grew last month even as harsh winter weather impeded hiring, disrupted supply chains and kept customers away from stores and auto dealerships. Yellen and her policy-making colleagues are trying to determine whether recent economic weakness stems from weather or fundamental obstacles to growth.

The Federal Open Market Committee will meet on March 18 and 19, its first meeting led by Yellen since she succeeded Ben Bernanke last month. — Bloomberg News

Coal firm to settle case

WASHINGTON — One of the nation’s largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into hundreds of waterways across five Appalachian states, according to a proposed settlement Wednesday.

The agreement includes the largest fine ever for violations of water pollution permits, with many of the violations reported by the company to state environmental officials. The Associated Press obtained details about the settlement before it was filed Wednesday in federal court in West Virginia.

The discharges occurred at mines and coal processing plants in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

The government says that between 2006 and 2013, Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and dozens of subsidiaries violated water pollution limits in state-issued permits more than 6,000 times. There is no evidence that any of the violations contaminated drinking water, EPA officials said. — AP

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