US Pays Down National Debt

Morning Business Memo….

For the first time since 2007 - before the recession - the US Treasury is planning to make a down payment on the federal debt. The budget deficit has been shrinking more than expected. Thanks to government spending cuts, and higher tax receipts The Treasury says it expects to pay off $35 billion of debt in the second quarter. That compares to an earlier forecast that it would have to borrow $103 billion. Usually this time of year is the best for government cash flow because annual tax returns flood into the Treasury in April. But the return to at least one quarter of debt paydown is a clear sign government spending cuts and tax increases have helped lower the deficit.

Twinkies and Ho Ho's are on their way back. The new Hostess Brands says it will open bakeries in Indiana and Illinois, following announcements last week that it will reopen bakeries in Georgia and Kansas in its effort to bring back the popular snack brands. Private equity groups Apollo Global Management and Metropolis & Co. - now doing business as Hostess Brands - paid $410 million to buy the Hostess and Dolly Madison snack cake lines from the previous owners of Hostess Brands. The investment firms are now trying to revive operations to get Twinkies, Ho Ho's and other popular snack cakes back on shelves by the end of July.

A Las Vegas-based social gambling company says it will launch the first legal, real-money poker website in the United States. Ultimate Gaming will only accept wagers from players in Nevada for now, but the site may represent the shape of things to come for gamblers across the country. Internet poker has been banned in the United States since 2011. More recently, the federal government softened its stance on Internet betting and three states - New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada- have legalized some form of online wagering. With today's launch, Nevada wins the race to bring Texas Hold 'em back to the Internet.

Despite repeated claims by many skeptics, the stock market continues to climb higher. The S&P 500 - the market's broadest gauge of big stock performance - is now at an all- time high of 1593. The Dow Jones index gained 106 points yesterday. Two tech stocks Microsoft and IBM were among the best performers, rising more than 2 percent each.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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