BC-Business News Digest


Associated Press

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 1:30 PM

Business News at 4:00 p.m.

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Booming oil production in the U.S. and Canada and shrinking oil consumption throughout the developed world is transforming the global oil trade, according to a report published Tuesday by the International Energy Agency. U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil will continue to dwindle, OPEC's share of the world market will ebb and increasing amounts of oil will flow to the developing economies of Asia. The threat of a chronic oil shortage is all but gone, but drivers will still pay high prices for gasoline and political insecurity in the Middle East or elsewhere could still lead to price spikes around the world. By Jon Fahey.


— OIL PRICES — The price of oil slides nearly $1 a barrel to finish near $94 a barrel as the International Energy Agency raises its forecast for U.S. oil production while cutting its prediction for global crude demand.

— EUROPE-OIL COMPANIES — European antitrust authorities launch investigations into Britain's BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Norway's Statoil on suspicion of price-fixing.


NEW YORK — The country's four biggest cellphone companies are set to launch their first joint advertising campaign against texting while driving, uniting behind AT&T's "It Can Wait" slogan to blanket TV and radio this summer. AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile will be joined by 200 other organizations backing the multi-million dollar ad campaign. The campaign is unusual not just because it unites rivals, but because it represents companies warning against the dangers of their own products. By Peter Svensson.

AP photo.


ORLANDO, Fla. — Research In Motion unveils a lower-cost BlackBerry aimed at consumers in emerging markets, and says it will offer its once-popular BlackBerry Messenger service on iPhones and devices running Google's Android software. By Kyle Hightower.

AP photo.


TOKYO — The U.S. hedge fund manager renowned for shaking up Yahoo Inc. has set his sights on Sony Corp., proposing that the Japanese electronics giant spin off up to 20 percent of its movie, TV and music division and use the money to strengthen its ailing device manufacturing unit. Sony rejected the plan, but analysts latched onto the idea as a way for Sony to unlock hidden value. By Yuri Kageyama.

AP photo.


Italian fashion brand Benetton, Spanish retailer Mango and British retailer Marks & Spencer have become the latest global retailers to agree to sign a one-of-a-kind pact to improve safety at Bangladesh factories following a building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers in the country last month. By Anne D'Innocenzio.


—BANGLADESH-BUILDING COLLAPSE— Thousands of mourners gathered at the wreckage of a Bangladeshi garment factory building to offer prayers for the souls of the 1,127 people who died in the structure's collapse, the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment industry.


U.S. airlines collected more than $6 billion in baggage and reservation change fees from passengers in 2012 — the highest amount since the fees became common five years ago. Passengers shouldn't expect a break anytime soon. Those fees — along with extra charges for boarding early or picking prime seats — have helped return the industry to profitability. By Airlines Writer Scott Mayerowitz.

AP photo.


WASHINGTON — The IRS acting chief acknowledges that the agency demonstrated "a lack of sensitivity" in its screenings of political groups seeking tax-exempt status, but he said those mistakes won't be repeated. By Stephen Ohlemacher.

AP photos, audio, video.



NEW YORK — Small business owners were a little more optimistic during April but are generally still cautious. The National Federation of Independent Business' Index of Small Business Optimism rose 2.6 points to 92.1 last month, erasing a drop of 1.3 during March.


— IMPORT PRICES — Prices paid by U.S. importers fell in April for the second straight month, pushed lower by another decline in imported petroleum. Falling import prices help keep inflation in check.


WASHINGTON — Higher tax revenue and better-than-expected bailout repayments by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will bring the budget deficit for 2013 to $642 billion, more than $200 billion below what was estimated just a few months ago, the Congressional Budget Office says. This year's shortfall would register at 4 percent of the economy, far less than the 10.1 percent experienced in 2009 when the government ran a record $1.4 trillion deficit. By Andrew Taylor.


WASHINGTON — The Senate has begun laying the groundwork on a massive farm bill that would cut spending while also creating new subsidies for farmers.


NEW YORK — The prospect of continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve and rising optimism among small business owners helps push stock prices back to record levels.

— POWERBALL JACKPOT — The Powerball jackpot is climbing again, and fast. In just a few short weeks, the jackpot has ballooned to $350 million, making it the third largest Powerball jackpot ever. AP photos, AP video.


WASHINGTON — After weeks of debate and number crunching, the Defense Department plans to furlough about 680,000 of its civilian employees for 11 days through the end of this fiscal year, allowing only limited exceptions for the military to avoid or reduce the unpaid days off. According to a memo obtained by The Associated Press, the decision was forced by what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called "an unpleasant set of choices" between the desire to avoid furloughing workers versus using funds to restore sharp cuts in training and flight operations. By Lolita C. Baldor.



DETROIT — U.S. auto safety regulators are investigating complaints that the engines in three Chrysler models can stall without warning.


KAMINOKAWA-MACHI, Japan — Nissan Motor Co. President Carlos Ghosn welcomed the yen's recent decline to what he called "neutral" levels for the Japanese automaker's profitability, but said it must drop further to be "normal."

— MAZDA-INVESTIGATION — U.S. auto safety officials are investigating complaints that doors won't close properly on more than 39,000 cars made by Mazda.

— INDYCAR-BROWN-CEO — Zak Brown has turned down an offer to become CEO of IndyCar Series, choosing instead to remain with the motorsports marketing company he founded.

— HONDA-OHIO PLANT — The new version of Honda's Acura NSX sports car will be produced inside a former Honda facility in Marysville in central Ohio.



BOISE, Idaho — A dozen years after a customer revolt forced Monsanto to ditch its genetically engineered potato, an Idaho company aims to resurrect high-tech spuds with varieties that resist bruising and have less of a natural but potentially cancer-causing neurotoxin. By John Miller.

AP photos.


PORTLAND, Maine — There's no smoke and mirrors about it — Americans are eating a lot more smoked seafood than they used to. And that demand, part of a larger trend of infusing everything from salts and cocktails to fruit and teas with a kiss of smoky flavor — has smoked seafood producers like Maine's Ducktrap River moving fast to expand production. By Clarke Canfield.

AP photos.

— BOEING-787 — Boeing is delivering 787s again after a four-month halt while it fixed problems that led to smoldering batteries.

— TRUMP-CHICAGO LAWSUIT — Donald Trump is known for grilling contestants on his TV show, "Celebrity Apprentice." But he'll be in the hot seat Tuesday as he takes the stand at a civil trial in Chicago.

— LAS VEGAS SANDS LAWSUIT — A jury awards Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen a $70 million judgment against Las Vegas Sands Corp., the casino giant run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

— FRANCE-EARNS-EADS — European aerospace company EADS said strong deliveries by airplane maker Airbus helped drive higher earnings in the first quarter and laid out the hope that the new A350 long-range aircraft should make its first flight this summer.

— GERMANY-EARNS-MERCK — Higher prices for its multiple sclerosis drug Rebif helped German pharmaceutical and high-tech materials company Merck KGaA post a 54 percent rise in first-quarter profit.

— GERMANY-EARNS-DEUTSCHE POST DHL — Mail, express delivery and freight company Deutsche Post DHL saw its profits dip in the first quarter as the weak global economy saw companies ship fewer goods by air and after a large one-time gain in the year-ago quarter.

— VISA-ANTITRUST PROBE — The European Union says Visa has agreed to reduce some credit card payment fees significantly to address concerns raised by the bloc's antitrust authority.

—INDONESIA-MINE COLLAPSE — Police say dozens of workers are trapped underground after a tunnel caved in at a giant U.S.-owned gold and copper mine in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua.



BERLIN — A top German court has ordered Google Inc. to act on requests to remove autocomplete entries from the search engine after a suit claimed the feature made defamatory suggestions. The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe upheld a complaint from an unidentified company selling nutritional supplements and its founder, identified only as "R.S." By Frank Jordans.


SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft's disdain for Google doesn't extend to all of its rival's products. In a rare bit of cooperation, Microsoft's Outlook.com is giving users of its free email service the option of logging into Google Chat to exchange instant messages and engage in audio or video conversations. By Michael Liedtke.



NEW YORK — A planned Windows 8 update to address complaints and confusion with Microsoft's new operating system will be made available for free this year, the company says. Microsoft also announces a name for the update: Windows 8.1. By Anick Desjanun.


— GOOGLE CEO-THROAT AILMENT — Google CEO Larry Page says he is afflicted with a paralyzed left vocal cord and a severely restricted right vocal cord.


TOKYO — Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp. named a new president, reshuffling its top management to help restore profitability after reporting a record loss. By Elaine Kurtenbach.

— GERMANY-AMAZON — A union representing workers at Amazon in Germany says members are striking in a push for higher wages from the online retailer.



BRUSSELS — European Union governments want to shift the cost of rescuing troubled banks from taxpayers to the banks' creditors, including the holders of large deposits as a last resort. The finance ministers from the 27-nation bloc are meeting in Brussels to hammer out the new rules on how to fund bank rescues as part of their wider project to set up a banking union. By Juergen Baetz.

AP photos.


LONDON — A larger-than-expected increase in industrial production across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro has raised hopes that the recession in the currency bloc has eased or even ended. Official figures released from Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, showed eurozone industrial output rose a monthly 1 percent in March, double the rate expected in the markets and the biggest gain since July 2011. By Pan Pylas.


— GREECE-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Greece has raised 1.3 billion euros ($1.69 billion) in a treasury bill auction held after the country's bailout lenders approved the payment of a new batch of rescue loans.

— GERMANY-ECONOMY — Germany's ZEW survey of investor optimism barely rose in May, reflecting the weak economy in the euro currency union. Meanwhile, inflation in Europe's largest economy has hit its lowest rate in nearly three years largely on the back of a fall in fuel costs.

— POLAND-ECONOMY — Official figures show that Poland's economy barely grew in the first quarter of the year.

— FRANCE-LABOR LAW— France's parliament is expected to pass a package of significant labor reforms that the government hopes will help stop rising unemployment and jumpstart the country's stagnant economy. It includes measures such as making it easier for workers to change jobs and making it easier for companies to fire employees.


GENEVA — Swiss authorities investigated several reports of terrorist financing among a high number of suspected money-laundering cases connected to banks last year, federal police say. The number involving terrorist financing rose to 15 in 2012, five more than a year earlier, due to a single complex case of almost $8 million, according to an annual report issued by the Money Laundering Reporting Office in the Swiss capital Bern. By John Heilprin.

AP photos.

— AUSTRALIA-ECONOMY — The Australian government's promise to deliver a budget surplus in the current fiscal year has blown out to a 19.4 billion Australian dollar ($19.4 billion) deficit as a fading mining boom coupled with a buoyant Aussie dollar slows the economy.

— GERMANY-NIGERIA-PIRACY— A German ship operator says five crew members kidnapped from one of its ships off the coast of Nigeria last month have been released



BOSTON — Mutual funds continued to attract cash at a fast clip in April, although the pace slowed from the record amount that flowed in during the first three months of the year. Investors also became more cautious, as bond funds attracted slightly more money than stock funds. By Personal Finance Writer Mark Jewell.


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Delta does dividends

Delta Air Lines is remaking its image on Wall Street. In an effort to return $1 billion to shareholders, the carrier will start paying a quarterly dividend and buy back $500 million of its stock by mid-2016.


Clorox boosts dividend

Clorox is raising its quarterly dividend 11 percent to 71 cents per share. Based on Monday's closing price that would raise its dividend yield to 3.3 percent.