Spain’s, Italy’s bond rates at distressing levels again

Borrowing rates for Spain and Italy rose to distressing levels again on Friday, signaling a resurgence in concern over Europe’s debt crisis just one week after markets cheered leaders’ decision to help financially weaker states.

The rate, or yield, for the Spanish 10-year bond was up 0.22 percentage points to 6.96 percent by early afternoon in Madrid. That level is deemed unsustainable over the long term and could push Spain to seek a full-blown bailout like Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Italy’s equivalent rate was up 0.13 percentage points to 6.01 percent. In comparison, Germany’s bond — seen as a safe haven for investors — was commanding a yield of 1.37 percent.

Both Spain’s and Italy’s yields fell sharply earlier this week in a wave of euphoria after European leaders agreed to channel aid directly to troubled banks, without further burdening a country’s debt. They also agreed to make it easier for countries to get rescue loans and for the European bailout fund to buy bonds from other investors, which would lower countries’ borrowing rates.

Best Buy cutting 2,400 jobs in its effort to restructure

Electronics retailer Best Buy Co. is laying off 600 staffers in its Geek Squad technical support division and 1,800 other store workers as it seeks to restructure operations and improve results, the company said Friday.

The cuts amount to about 1.4 percent of the staff of 167,000.

Best Buy is trying to combat the “showrooming” of its stores, as consumers test out products at its stores but go home and buy them cheaper online or at discounters.

Police bust ring that stole pallets used in auto industry

The Michigan attorney general’s office said authorities helped break up a criminal operation where thieves stole and resold plastic pallets used in the automotive industry.

Bill Schuette’s office announced Friday that it’s charging four people in the case.

The charges follow an undercover operation conducted by the Livonia Police Department with assistance from the state attorney general’s office and General Motors Co. The office said thieves targeted industrial areas in southeast Michigan for pallets, worth $300 to $500 each.

Cuban assets abroad drop 24 percent at last year’s end

Cuban bank assets deposited in foreign financial institutions that belong to an international reporting system showed a stunning plunge of $1.55 billion, or 24 percent, in just the last three months of last year.

“It’s highly unusual for those deposits to drop so much, especially because Cuba had been building up its liquidity until then,” said Luis R. Luis, a former chief economist at the Organization of American States who first reported the change.

A Bank for International Settlements report dated June 4 showed Cuban bank deposits in the BIS’s 43 member central banks and financial centers nosedived from $5.65 billion at the end of September to $4.1 billion at the end of December.

— From news service reports