Money in a Minute: Headlines for March 15, 2011

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In today's news: Stocks are down, fundraising scams are up, Bank of America is accused of sketchy foreclosure activity by hackers, Hewlett-Packard is branching out with new services, and Japan's going to need more energy imports.

MARKET: Stocks plummet worldwide as worries mount over Japan

The Japanese Nikkei stock index dropped more than 6 percent Monday and another 11 percent on Tuesday, making the two-day rout the worst since 1987. European stocks are also trading sharply lower in early trading, and U.S. stocks are pointing to a big opening drop. “The U.S. market is pricing in a worst-case scenario with the nuclear situation,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.,” CNN Money reports.

CHARITY: Japan earthquake: Avoid fundraising scams

The FBI is already investigating a donation scheme related to the tragedy in Japan. During the “earthquake in Haiti, more than 350 complaints were filed about fraudulent activity,” CNN Money reports.

BANKS: ‘Anonymous’ hackers release Bank of America emails

The hacker collective known as Anonymous has acquired and released internal emails from a Bank of America subsidiary dealing with foreclosures. The hacker group alleges criminal activity, but at first look “the e-mails don’t indicate the loans have foreclosure issues,” USA Today reports.

TECH: HP plans to start cloud service, app stores; raises dividend

Hewlett-Packard is spreading out, adding its mobile platform to a wider range of phones and devices, while also placing greater emphasis on Internet-based — rather than computer-based — applications. The company also “raised its quarterly dividend for the first time since 1998, increasing it 50 percent to 12 cents a share from 8 cents,” Bloomberg reports.

OIL: Oil settles higher; Japan may boost fuel imports

Trouble for the third-largest oil consumer in the world may temporarily ease up demand, but as the country recovers, “Japan will compensate for the shutdown of its nuclear reactors by relying more heavily on traditional fossil fuels,” MSNBC reports.

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