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Associated Press

Posted on November 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 16 at 6:02 PM

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Power outage time after Sandy not extraordinary

NEW YORK (AP) — As the number of nights without power stretched on for thousands left in the dark after Superstorm Sandy, patience understandably turned to anger and outrage.

But an Associated Press analysis of outage times from other big hurricanes and tropical storms suggests that, on the whole, the response to Sandy by utility companies, especially in hardest-hit New York and New Jersey, was typical — or even a little faster than elsewhere after other huge storms.

The AP, with the assistance of Ventyx, a software company that helps utilities manage their grids, used Energy Department data to determine how many days it took to restore 95 percent of the peak number of customers left without power after major hurricanes since 2004, including Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike and Irene.

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Twinkie maker Hostess reaches the end of the line

NEW YORK (AP) — Twinkies may not last forever after all.

Hostess Brands Inc., the maker of the spongy snack with a mysterious cream filling, said Friday it would shutter is operations after years of struggling with management turmoil, rising labor costs, intensifying competition and America's move toward eating healthier snacks even as its pantry of sugary dessert cakes seemed suspended in time.

Some beloved Hostess brands like Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's likely will be snapped up by buyers and find a second life, but for now the company says its snack cakes should be on shelves for another week or so. The news stoked an outpouring of nostalgia around kitchen tables, water coolers and online, as people relived childhood memories of their favorite Hostess goodies.

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2 years after IPO, GM is piling up cash

DETROIT (AP) — Two years after a wounded General Motors returned to the stock market, the symbol of American industrial might is thriving again.

Sunday marks the anniversary of GM's initial public stock offering in November 2010. The company has made money for 11 straight quarters, piling up more than $16 billion in profits. Its cars and trucks are selling for good prices. And sales are strong in China.

But there are signs of trouble. GM's U.S. sales, the prime driver of its profits, aren't rising as quickly as the overall market. There's been turmoil in the executive ranks, and the company is hemorrhaging cash in Europe.

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Hill leaders voice new confidence in deficit deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders from both parties voiced fresh optimism Friday after meeting with President Barack Obama about avoiding year-end "fiscal cliff" tax increases and spending cuts that would hammer the middle class and risk plunging the economy into recession.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said Republicans are willing to consider increased revenue "as long as it is accompanied by spending cuts" as leaders in a divided government get to work on a possible deal after a fierce election campaign.

Boehner presented a framework that one official said called for a deficit down-payment of unspecified size by year's end, to be followed by comprehensive tax reform and an overhaul of Medicare and other benefit programs in 2013.

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Sandy, budget worries hold back US factory output

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory production of machinery and equipment fell sharply last month, held back by temporary disruptions caused by Superstorm Sandy and companies' fears that a federal budget crisis could trigger a recession next year.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory output, the most important component of industrial production, fell 0.9 percent in October from September. It would have been unchanged without the storm, the Fed said.

Overall industrial production fell 0.4 percent last month. Utility output dipped 0.1 percent, while mining, which includes oil and gas production, rose 1.5 percent.

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Foreign holdings of US debt hit $5.46 trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record level in September for the ninth straight month. The increase suggests that overseas investors are confident in U.S. debt despite a potential budget crisis.

The Treasury Department said Friday that total foreign holdings rose to $5.46 trillion in September, up 0.1 percent from August.

China, the largest holder of U.S. government debt, barely increased its holdings in September to $1.16 trillion. Japan, the second-largest, increased its holdings to $1.13 trillion. Brazil trimmed its holdings to $267 billion.

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JPMorgan, Credit Suisse paying $417 million in SEC case

WASHINGTON (AP) — JPMorgan Chase and Credit Suisse have agreed to pay a combined $417 million to settle federal civil charges that they sold risky mortgage bonds to investors that the banks knew could fail ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

JP Morgan did not warn investors that homeowners were behind on their payments for the mortgages tied to the bonds, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday. And both banks failed to properly disclose practices that allowed them to profit while investors lost millions, the SEC said.

When the real estate bubble burst, home values plunged and millions of people defaulted on their mortgages and lost their homes. Investors who bought the securities backed by mortgages lost billions.

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Judge leaning toward OK of $22.5 million fine of Google

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A proposed $22.5 million fine to penalize Google for an alleged privacy breach is on the verge of winning court approval, despite a consumer rights group's cry for tougher punishment.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told lawyers during a Friday court hearing in San Francisco that she is likely to approve the fine, which is the cornerstone of a settlement reached three months ago between the Federal Trade Commission and Google Inc.

The rebuke is meant to resolve allegations that Google duped millions of Web surfers who use the Safari browser into believing their online activities couldn't be tracked by the company as long as they didn't change the browser's privacy settings. That assurance was posted on Google's website earlier this year, even as the Internet search leader was inserting computer coding that bypassed Safari's automatic settings and enabled the company to peer into the online lives of the browser's users.

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IKEA regrets use of forced labor in East Germany

BERLIN (AP) — Swedish furniture giant IKEA expressed regret Friday that it benefited from the use of forced prison labor by some of its suppliers in communist East Germany more than two decades ago.

The company released an independent report showing that East German prisoners, among them many political dissidents, were involved in the manufacture of goods supplied to IKEA between 25 and 30 years ago.

The report concluded that IKEA managers were aware of the possibility that prisoners were used in the manufacture of its products and took some measures to prevent it, but they were insufficient.

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Nike to sell Cole Haan brand for $570 million

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) — Nike is selling its Cole Haan brand to private equity firm Apax Partners for $570 million, part of its effort to focus on core brands.

The sneakers, clothing and sports gear maker said in May that it wanted to sell the leather shoe and bag division and its Umbro soccer jersey brand to cut costs.

Nike is focusing on its namesake brand, Jordan, Converse and Hurley.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 45.93 points, or 0.4 percent, at 12,588.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.55 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,359.88 and the Nasdaq rose 16.19 points, or 0.6 percent to 2,853.13.

Benchmark crude oil futures rose by $1.05 to finish at $86.92 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price many international varieties of oil, rose 94 cents to end at $108.95 per barrel in London.

Heating oil rose 1.33 cents to finish at $2.9868 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.39 cents to end at $2.7101 per gallon. Natural gas rose 8.3 cents to finish at $3.9040 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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