BC-Business News Digest


Associated Press

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 24 at 2:00 PM

Business News at 3:30 p.m.

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WASHINGTON — As machines get smarter, will humans have anything left to do? A growing number of economists are beginning to worry that technology will throw most humans out of work permanently. This fear has been raised before and always proved unfounded — carriage makers and blacksmiths gave way to vast numbers of auto workers, for instance. But the inexorable increase in power and sophistication of software may eventually threaten employment for everyone from pharmacists to lawyers. A look at the three scenarios experts envision for how this could play out. By Business Writers Paul Wiseman and Bernard Condon.

Eds: Embargoed for use Friday, Jan. 25 and thereafter.

AP photos, interactive.


— GREAT RESET-HISTORY OF PROTEST — For every clever man who invents a labor-saving machine, it seems a crowd of angry men rises up to destroy it. A review of campaigns against technology, from Victorian-era workers smashing textile machines to pleas from studio musicians to radio stations to break vinyl records after one play. By Business Writer Bernard Condon. Eds: Embargoed for use Friday, Jan. 25 and thereafter. AP photos.

— GREAT RESET-LUDDITES — The Luddites were textile artisans in Britain in the early 1800s who smashed the mechanized looms they feared would take their jobs. Now their name is synonymous with fuddy-duddies who won't adapt to new technology. A look at who they really were and the legacy they left behind. By Economics Writer Paul Wiseman. Eds: Embargoed for use Friday, Jan. 25 and thereafter. AP photos.


NEW YORK — Apple's profit growth has stalled and Wall Street is dumping its shares. But are investors giving the company, which is still enormously profitable, a fair shake? Many analysts believe Apple should be worth more. By Technology Writer Peter Svensson.


— SKOREA-EARNS-LG DISPLAY — LG Display warns that earnings will decrease in the current quarter as demand for iPhones wanes.


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama sent his sharpest signal to date that he wants the government to get tougher with Wall Street. Obama appointed a former federal prosecutor to head the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time in the agency's 79-year history. In selecting Mary Jo White, the president has chosen an attorney who brings a record of prosecuting white-collar crime, along with a few high-profile convictions won against the first World Trade Center bomber and crime boss John Gotti. If confirmed, White's next task may prove equally daunting: enforcing complicated regulations written in response to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. By Marcy Gordon and Julie Pace.

AP photos.



WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has saluted the outgoing Timothy Geithner as one of the best U.S. Treasury secretaries ever. Not since the Great Depression had an administration inherited so many grave financial threats at once. To many, Geithner deserves credit for helping steady the banking system as well as helping restore investor confidence. Yet his toughest critics say Geithner's policies consistently favored big banks over ordinary struggling Americans. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.

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WASHINGTON — Employers are laying off fewer workers, a trend that normally suggests hiring is picking up. Next week's jobs report for January will show whether companies have in fact begun to hire more freely or are still waiting for the economy to strengthen. The number of people seeking unemployment aid is at a five-year low. Some industries, like health care, restaurants, retailers are hiring steadily. Yet overall job growth remains modest, and the unemployment rate is the same painful 7.8 percent it was when Barack Obama became president four years ago. Incorporates BC-US--Unemployment Benefits. By Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber.

AP photos.


DHAKA, Bangladesh — When fire ravaged a Bangladeshi garment factory, killing 112 workers, dozens of their families did not even have a body to bury because their loved ones' remains were burned beyond recognition. Two months later, the same families have yet to receive any of the compensation they were promised — not even their relatives' last paychecks. By Julhas Alam.

AP photos.



DAVOS, Switzerland — Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron slams moves to forge a United States of Europe. Cameron, who has shaken up Europe's political landscape by offering to let citizens vote on whether to leave the 27-nation European Union, says forcing countries into a single entity would be a "great mistake." By Angela Charlton.

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LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron says he will use his country's yearlong presidency of the G-8 to target tax-dodging tactics by businesses. Public anger has been mounting in Britain after lawmakers accused major multinational companies including Starbucks, Google and Amazon of "immorally" avoiding paying tax. By Cassandra Vinograd.

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WASHINGTON — The nation's sharp disagreements over taxes and spending are on a re-routed collision course, as Senate Democrats launch a plan that includes new taxes and House Republicans vow to speed up their plan to balance the federal budget with spending cuts alone. By Charles Babington.

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— LEADING INDICATORS — A measure of the U.S. economy designed to signal future activity increased in December from November, suggesting growth may strengthen in 2013. The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.5 percent in December, the best showing since September.

— MORTGAGE RATES — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose this week but remained near record lows, keeping home buying more affordable.


NEW YORK — A sudden drop in claims for unemployment benefits helps push the Standard & Poor's 500 index above 1,500 for the first time since December 2007. Apple's stock sinks 10 percent, pulling the Nasdaq composite index lower, after the electronics giant predicted slower sales. By Matthew Craft.

AP photos.

— OIL PRICES — The price of oil rises to almost $96 a barrel on positive economic news from the U.S. and China.

— GAY RIGHTS-FEDERAL CONTRACTORS — Gay rights advocates are renewing their push for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees.



The parent company of United Airlines is reporting a $620 million loss in the fourth quarter as passengers stayed away following its problems earlier in the year with integrating Continental. By Airlines Writer Joshua Freed.

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DALLAS — Southwest Airlines says fourth-quarter earnings fell by nearly half on higher spending for fuel, labor and maintenance. But the airline's revenue is rising because the average fare is almost $8 higher than a year ago. By Airlines Writer David Koenig.

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MINNEAPOLIS — 3M, which makes Post-it notes, industrial products and construction materials, says its fourth-quarter net income rose 4 percent as growing profits in health care and consumer goods offset declines in other areas. By Business Writer Joshua Freed.

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— EARNS-STARBUCKS — Starbucks reports quarterly financial results after the market closes.

— EARNS-UNION PACIFIC — Union Pacific says its fourth-quarter profit chugged ahead 7 percent because it raised shipping rates on the railroad and collected more fuel surcharges. AP photo.



WASHINGTON — Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama's health care law. The impact is just now being understood for a provision that allows health insurers to charge smokers buying an individual policy as much as 50 percent more. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.

— MCDONALD'S-FISH SUSTAINABILITY — McDonald's says it will be the first national restaurant chain to carry a label from a group that certifies sustainable fishing practices.

— GERMANY-COMMERZBANK-JOBS — Commerzbank, Germany's second-biggest bank, says it plan to cut as many as 6,000 jobs over the next three years as it tries to reduce costs.

— BELGIUM-STEEL LAYOFFS — ArcelorMittal to close plants in Belgium, threatening 1,300 jobs, due to collapsing demand for steel in Europe and the sector's overcapacity. AP photos.

— BRITAIN-HORSEMEAT-BURGER KING — Burger King says it has stopped buying beef from an Irish supplier after traces of horse DNA were found in beef burgers sold in Britain and Ireland.

— BRITAIN-BARCLAYS-LIBOR — A British court has rejected an attempt by Barclays to shield the names of more than 100 present and former employees of the bank allegedly involved in manipulating a key interest rate index or who for other reasons came to the attention of investigators.

— BRAZIL-EMBRAER— Brazilian planemaker Embraer says it has signed a contract with Republic Airways Holdings Inc. for the sale of 47 E-175 passenger jets for an estimated US$2 billion.

— JAPAN-TOYOTA-BMW — Toyota and BMW are working together on next-generation batteries for green vehicles.



SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix's rollercoaster ride on Wall Street surges to new heights. The company's stock surges as investors celebrate a fourth-quarter earnings report highlighted by accelerated growth in Netflix's Internet video service. By Technology Writer Michael Liedtke.

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NEW YORK — In Netflix's bid for a flagship original drama of its own — a "Sopranos" to its HBO — the subscription streaming service is presenting a high-class adaptation of a British political thriller, "House of Cards." The entire first season will be available on Feb. 1 — a potentially landmark event that could herald the transition of television away from pricey cable bundles and toward the Internet. By Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle.

AP photo.

— EARNS-MICROSOFT — Microsoft reports quarterly financial results after the market closes.

— EARNS-AT&T — AT&T Corp. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes.


HELSINKI — Struggling Nokia turns a $270 million profit in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $1 billion a year earlier, but revenue drops 20 percent as it fails to make gains in the fiercely competitive smartphone market. Its outlook for the current quarter is grim, with the handset maker citing lower-than-expected demand for its flagship Lumia phones and cheaper Asha models as it struggles against the dominance of market leaders Samsung and Apple. By Matti Huuhtanen.

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HAVANA — Cuba's state telecom monopoly confirms that the island's first hard-wired Internet connection to the outside world has been activated, but said it won't lead to an immediate increase in access. By Peter Orsi.

— FRANCE-TWITTER — A French court has sided with a Jewish group seeking to identify authors of anti-Semitic messages that circulated the social network Twitter last autumn.

— BRITAIN-SONY HACK — British regulators fine Sony $396,000 for failing to prevent a 2011 cyberattack on its PlayStation Network which put millions of users' personal information — including names, addresses, birth dates and account passwords — at risk. AP photo

— VATICAN-SOCIAL NETWORKS — Pope: Social networks aren't a virtual world church can ignore, but a real world to evangelize.



ATHENS, Greece — A steep increase in heating costs has led many Greeks to switch from heating oil to wood-burning fireplaces. But the price of using cheaper fuel is growing. Illegal loggers are slashing through forests already devastated by years of summer wildfires. Air pollution from wood smoke is choking the country's main cities. And there has been an increase in blazes caused by carelessly attended woodstoves. By Nicholas Paphitis.

AP photos.


— GREECE-FINANCIAL-CRISIS —Greece's government announced emergency powers to force striking subway workers back to work, with those defying it risking arrest. AP photos.


TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Surveillance cameras in one of the world's most dangerous cities have been turned off for lack of payment. The same may happen to the police radio network. Teachers say they haven't been paid in six months. Doctors complain about the shortage of essential medicines. This Central American country has been on the brink of bankruptcy for months as lawmakers squabble over a basic budget while trying to cope with a growing government debt. By Alberto Arce.

AP photos.

— CHINA-ECONOMY — Survey finds China manufacturing activity hits 2-year high in latest sign of economic recovery. AP photo

— SPAIN-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Spain's unemployment rate shoots up to a record 26 percent in the fourth quarter, with almost six million people out of work.

— JAPAN-TRADE — Japan's trade deficit rose to a record $78.3 billion in 2012 as fuel imports surged and a bitter territorial dispute with China hammered its exports.

— SKOREA-ECONOMY — South Korea's economy grew 2 percent in 2012, its weakest performance in three years, and is not expected to rebound strongly this year.

— SKOREA-EARNS-HYUNDAI MOTOR — Hyundai's fourth-quarter profit is the lowest in nearly 2 years on the won's surge and lower demand at home.

— ITALY-MONTE DEI PASCHI — The Bank of Italy says former managers of bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena hid complex financial transactions that reportedly will cost it $293 million in 2012 profits.



BOSTON — Stocks are at a five-year high, and investors appear so confident that the market's so-called fear gauge is at its lowest point in nearly six years. What explains the current comfort level? Investors face fewer economic and political uncertainties than they have in years, says Bruce Herring, who oversees more than $500 billion as chief investment officer for stocks at Fidelity Investments. In a Q&A, here's Herring's outlook on a market that he believes offers plenty of opportunity. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell.

AP photo.


NEW YORK — With Valentine's Day only about two weeks away, it's time to start planning what you want to buy your loved ones. Whether it's chocolates, flowers or something else special, love doesn't have to come with a big price tag. All you need is a little creativity. By Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio.


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Back in style?

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Netflix stock soars

Shares of Netflix soared after the online video rental company delivered a surprise profit in the fourth quarter. Analysts had expected a loss.