May 12 - Summary of business headlines: Bipartisan talks to cut U.S. deficit, lift debt ceiling making progress, says White House; Bernanke warns against delay; Oil execs in hot seat as gas price slows April retail sales; Stocks, oil rebound. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL The White House says President Obama and Republican lawmakers agree that the debt ceiling must be raised, but made it clear a deal has yet to be reached. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers delaying progress on lifting the debt ceiling and reducing government debt could have dire consequences. SOUNDBITE: FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BEN BERNANKE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think it is a risky approach to, not to raise the debt limit in a reasonable - at a reasonable time. Again, the costs, I think at minimum, the costs would be an increase in interest rates, which would actually worsen our deficit and would hurt all borrowers in the economy including mortgage borrowers and the like." The government's more than $14 trillion borrowing limit will be reached in coming days and lawmakers have until August to raise it according to estimates by the U.S. Treasury. Staying in Washington - oil execs from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and BP were in the hot seat, as lawmakers grilled the group over high gasoline prices and the billions in tax subsidies the industry receives. The group faces a tough crowd as the average price of a gallon of gasoline sits at $4 a gallon. And there are more signs high gas prices are choking off spending. U.S. retail sales posted their smallest gain in nine months in April, according to the Commerce Department. Wall Street managed to shake off concerns about the consumer to end higher following a sharp slide the day before. There was a small rebound in oil prices even as the International Energy Agency cut its forecast for global demand. But European shares finished modestly lower led by declines in energy shares. Conway Gittens, Reuters