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News Wrap: April Showed Best Car Sales in Six Years

May 1, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A wave of bombings across Iraq killed at least 15 people today. Dozens more were wounded. The deadliest incident took place east of Fallujah. A suicide bomber targeted anti-al-Qaida Sunni fighters as they were being paid. Six people died there. The attacks continued a surge of sectarian violence that erupted in late April.

In economic news, the Federal Reserve warned there’s evidence that budget cuts and the resumption of higher Social Security taxes are restraining growth. It said it will continue its stimulus measures for now. The Fed statement helped drag Wall Street lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 139 points to close below 14,701. The Nasdaq fell 29 points to close at 3,299.

April was a good month for car and truck sales, the best in six years, in fact. Ford’s U.S. sales rose 18 percent, while both Chrysler and General Motors saw an 11 percent increase. A rebound in pickup truck sales led the way for the Detroit automakers, partly due to rising demand from home builders and other businesses.

President Obama today nominated a new overseer for two mortgage lending giants and a new chief regulator of the telecommunications industry. North Carolina Democratic Congressman Melvin Watt was the choice to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which governs mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Tom Wheeler, a former cable and wireless industry lobbyist, was selected to head the Federal Communications Commission.

The president announced the nominations at a White House ceremony with both men by his side.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mel has led efforts to rein in unscrupulous mortgage lenders. He has helped protect consumers from the kind of reckless risk-taking that led to the financial crisis in the first place, and he has fought to give more Americans in low-income neighborhoods access to affordable housing.

For more than 30 years, Tom has been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we have seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives. He was one of the leaders of a company that helped create thousands of good high-tech jobs.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The two nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

Thirty-two mentally disabled men in Iowa won a jury award of $240 million dollars today from a defunct Texas firm. Starting in the 1970s, the men worked at a turkey processing plant. Investigators testified they were held in virtual enslavement. They were housed in a rundown, rat-infested bunkhouse and paid just $65 dollars a month. The conditions were discovered in a 2009 inspection.

A veteran congressman and a former Navy SEAL will face each other in the race for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. Rep. Ed Markey won the Democratic nomination in yesterday’s primary, and Gabriel Gomez won a three-way Republican primary. They are vying for the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry when he became secretary of state. The election will be held eight weeks from now, on June 25th.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.