Business Highlights Share This: AP 3/19/2013 9:42:01 PM (AP) Business HighlightsBy The Associated Press___Cypriot lawmakers reject deposits tax billNICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Cypriot lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a critical draft bill that would have taxed part of people's bank deposits in order to qualify for a vital international bailout, without a single vote in favor.The rejection leaves Cyprus's bailout in question. Without external funds, the country's banks face collapse and the government could go bankrupt. Nicosia will now have to come up with an alternative plan to raise the money: the government could try to offer a compromise bill that would be more palatable to lawmakers.The bill, which was amended Tuesday morning to shield small deposit holders from the deposit tax, was rejected with 36 votes against and 19 abstentions.___INFLUENCE GAME: Congress quiet on Dreamliner woesWASHINGTON (AP) _ As Boeing, its airline customers and federal safety regulators struggled over the past two months to solve problems with the new 787 Dreamliner's fire-plagued batteries, one player has been strangely silent: Congress.Despite the plane's grounding and the safety issues raised by its cutting-edge technology, there have been no congressional hearings or news conferences focusing on the problems, and little commentary from lawmakers who normally pounce at the first sign of trouble.The unusual bipartisan silence reflects Boeing's political clout, wielded by legions of lobbyists, fueled by hefty political campaign contributions and by the company's importance as a huge employer and the nation's single largest exporter. Few companies are as well positioned as Boeing to fend off a potentially damaging public investigation.___See-through yoga pants reveal pain for LululemonNEW YORK (AP) _ Lululemon has yanked its popular black yoga pants from store shelves and online after it found that the sheer material used was revealing too much of its loyal customers.The see-through yoga garb is the latest in a series of quality glitches that threaten to alienate the retailer's hardcore fan base, which has so far been more than willing to shell out $100 for pants and other athletic garments.Lululemon Athletica Inc. said on its website that it first began to understand the extent of the problem on March 11 as part of its weekly call with store managers, who voiced worries about sheerness. Lululemon didn't immediately respond to queries about whether the problem was discovered when customers started to return the Luon pants, the latest batch of which went on sale at the beginning of the month.___US housing starts rise, permits at 4 1/2-year highWASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. builders started more homes in February and permits for future construction rose at the fastest pace in 4 1/2 years. The increases point to a housing recovery that is gaining strength.The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That's up from 910,000 in January. And it's the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December's rate of 982,000.Single-family home construction increased to an annual rate of 618,000, the most in 4 1/2 years. Apartment construction also ticked up, to 285,000.___Senate panel advances White nomination to head SECWASHINGTON (AP) _ A Senate panel has approved Mary Jo White's nomination to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission and sent it along for a final vote.The Senate Banking Committee approved White's nomination on a 21-1 vote. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was the only member to object. White is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate and become the first former prosecutor to lead the agency that oversees Wall Street.The panel also advanced Richard Cordray's nomination to continue as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. His nomination was approved on a 12-10 party-line vote. All Republican members opposed the nomination. They have also opposed the newly created agency and have expressed interest in curtailing Cordray's power.___Congress works on budget for 2013 and futureWASHINGTON (AP) _ Congress is finally cleaning up its unfinished budget business for the 2013 budget year with a bipartisan government-wide funding bill. But even as that measure heads toward approval, the House and Senate are moving toward votes that will underscore sharp differences on a bigger problem: how to fix the nation's long-term deficit woes.The Senate is positioned to approve the catchall spending bill after it cleared a procedural hurdle Monday by a 63-35 vote. The House, which approved a narrower version two weeks ago, is expected to quickly clear the measure and ship it to President Barack Obama for his signature.On a separate track, the GOP-controlled House and Democratic Senate are readying votes this week on sharply different budget blueprints for next year and beyond. The measures are non-binding and largely symbolic. But they veer off in opposite directions at the same time that Obama seeks to nurture a future compromise blending new tax revenues with spending cuts beyond what his Democratic allies are willing to offer now.___APNewsBreak: US to revise cigarette warning labelsRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The government is abandoning a legal battle to require that cigarette packs carry a set of large and often macabre warning labels depicting the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to quit.The Food and Drug Administration will go back to the drawing board and create labels to replace those that included images of diseased lungs and the sewn-up corpse of a smoker, according to a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder obtained by The Associated Press. The government had until Monday to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court decision upholding a ruling that the requirement violated First Amendment free speech protections.Some of the nation's largest tobacco companies, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., sued to block the mandate to include warnings on cigarette packs as part of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that, for the first time, gave the federal government authority to regulate tobacco. The nine labels originally set to appear on store shelves last year would've represented the biggest change in cigarette packs in the U.S. in 25 years.___Trio of retailers to settle FTC "faux" fur chargesWASHINGTON (AP) _ The FTC said Tuesday that Neiman Marcus and two other retailers agreed to settle charges that they claimed certain products were made of "faux" fur when they actually contained real fur.In addition to the upscale department store operator, the retailers include DrJays.com Inc. and Eminent Inc., doing business as Revolve Clothing.The Federal Trade Commission said the companies also violated federal laws by not naming the animal that the fur came from.___Walgreen buys wholesaler stake, 2Q profit climbsDrugstore chain Walgreen Co. is buying an ownership stake in another big company, this time in a deal that could increase its clout when negotiating prices with drugmakers.The Deerfield, Ill., company said Tuesday that it is expanding its supply agreement with AmerisourceBergen Corp. through a 10-year deal that gives it and European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots a minority stake in the pharmaceutical wholesaler. Walgreen has a stake in Alliance Boots.The latest announcement came the same day that Walgreen said its fiscal second-quarter earnings climbed 11 percent, helped by contributions from Alliance Boots, a business sale gain, and its new contract with Express Scripts Holding Co.___Citigroup to pay $730 million to settle lawsuitNEW YORK (AP) _ Citigroup has agreed to pay $730 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed investors were misled by the bank's disclosures when they purchased its debt and preferred stock.The investors' purchases were made from May 11, 2006 through Nov. 28, 2008.Citigroup Inc. denied the allegations and said in a statement late Monday that it agreed to the settlement so it could get rid of further expenses and uncertainties that come along with drawn-out litigation.___By The Associated Press(equals)The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 3.76 points at 14,455.82. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.76 points to 1,548.34. The Nasdaq composite lost 8.49 points to 3,229.10.Benchmark oil for April delivery fell $1.58 to finish at $92.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, dropped $2.06 to end at $107.45 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.Natural gas futures rose 9 cents to finish at $3.97 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline lost 8 cents to end at $3.05 a gallon. Heating oil fell 6 cents to finish at $2.86 a gallon.