Walmart unveils new program to buy back $15 billion in shares

Walmart Stores Inc. unveiled a $15 billion share buyback program Friday as it sought to reassure shareholders at its annual meeting that the world’s largest retailer is still growing.

The buyback will replace a previous $15 billion repurchase plan begun a year ago. The company bought back 244 million shares worth $12.9 billion under that program.

The news comes after the company increased in March its dividend in its current 2012 fiscal year from $1.21 to $1.46 per share, an increase of 21 percent that returned $1.3 billion to shareholders.


Greece set to get next installment of its bailout, debt inspectors say

Greece is poised to receive the next installment of its bailout facility, and will likely get further rescue loans to prevent it from defaulting on its massive debts, European officials said Friday.

Debt inspectors from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund said Greece should receive the next 12 billion euro tranche of its existing 110 billion euro bailout as long as additional austerity and privatization measures are deemed sufficient. Greece also had to accept unprecedented outside interference in the way it runs its government services.

As the international debt inspectors concluded the near monthlong mission in Athens, Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the group of 17 eurozone finance ministers, said he expected Greece to get additional help, on top of the existing rescue loans, as long as it fulfills its promises.


Hackers steal massive trove of data in latest Sony attack

Another massive data breach at Sony has left hackers exulting, customers steaming and security experts questioning why basic fixes haven’t been made to the company’s stricken cybersecurity program.

Hackers say they managed to steal a massive trove of personal information from Sony Pictures’ website using a basic technique which they claim shows how poorly the company guards its users’ secrets. Security experts agreed Friday, saying that the company’s security was bypassed by a well-known attack method in which rogue commands are used to extract sensitive data from poorly constructed websites.

Coming on the heels of a massive security breach that compromised more than 100 million user accounts associated with Sony’s PlayStation and online entertainment networks, the latest attack suggested that hackers were lining up to give the company a kicking, said Graham Cluley of Web security firm Sophos.


Ex-Wachovia account manager sentenced for stealing $14 million

A former account manager at Wachovia Bank has been sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing more than $14 million from her clients’ accounts to fund a lifestyle that included a luxury motor home, a helicopter and a menagerie of animals including two zebras.

The term for 42-year-old Linda Tribby of Lovettsville, Va., was slightly less than the eight to 10 years sought by federal prosecutors in Alexandria.

According to court documents, Tribby told some of her clients she could set up special accounts that would provide tax-free interest. In reality, those accounts never existed and Tribby took the money.

Wachovia is reimbursing the clients for the lost funds.


Oil keeps hovering around $100 despite gloomy economic reports

Despite more gloomy economic reports, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude on Friday settled just about where it began the day: down 18 cents at $100.22 per barrel. Oil has hovered around the $100 mark since early May.

“It’s like there’s a magnet on that $100 level,” independent oil analyst Jim Ritterbusch said.


Orexigen Therapeutics puts obesity drugs on hold in U.S..

Orexigen Therapeutics Inc. said Friday that U.S. regulators are making “unprecedented” demands about safety trials for its obesity drug candidate Contrave, and it is putting on hold further work on securing approval in that market.

The San Diego company said it will focus on developing Contrave and another drug candidate, Empatic, in non-U.S. markets until there is a clear pathway to approval in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration refused to approve Contrave in February because of concerns about its effects on the heart.