Morning Business Memo…
The beverage industry may be applauding a New York court's ruling that strikes down the nation's first ban on big sugary drinks. But America's love affair with soda appears to be over - even without the attempt by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to impose a 16 ounce limit for sugary drinks. According to Beverage Digest, soda was the number one drink in the US for two decades, with per capita consumption peaking in 1998 at 54 gallons a year. But now the average has fallen to 44 gallons, and soda has been replaced as the top drink of choice by water. In recent years, with warnings that soft drinks were making people fat, many Americans have switched to popular brands of bottled water as an alternative.
Make that seven in a row. For seven straight trading days stock averages have closed higher - trading up after a strong profits season for many big corporations. The Federal Reserve's policy of very low interest rates is also said to be a reason for a strong stock market. The S&P 500 gained 5 points yesterday. The last time the Dow Jones index rose for seven consecutive days was March 2012. Futures are mixed this morning. Asian markets closed lower overnight.
A huge payday for several top CEO's - continuing a recent trend. AT&T's boss Richard Stephenson earned $21 million last year - a personal record. GE boosted Jeffrey Immelt's compensation to more than $20 million - 80 percent more than in 2011, according to the Associated Press. IBM awarded its CEO Virginia Rometty a pay package valued at more than $15 million during her first year on the job…
The world's wealthiest man is facing a new challenge. Mexico's government is going after the telecommunications monopoly run by Carlos Slim. New laws aim to open Mexico's TV and telecommunications business to more competition. The proposals are part of a new set of ambitious economic reforms. Anti-trust experts have said for years that Mexico's giant monopolies hampered innovation and kept prices artificially high.
The US government has sold another chunk of its stake in General Motors. The Treasury Department says in its February report to Congress that it sold $489.9 million worth of GM common stock last month. The report says the government has recovered about $29.8 billion of its $49.5 billion bailout of the Detroit automaker. That means taxpayers are still $19.7 billion in the hole. The government still owns about 277 million GM shares.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc