Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Oct 11, 2010 6:16 PM
Business Highlights


3 win economics Nobel for job market analysis

STOCKHOLM (AP) _ Two Americans and a British-Cypriot economist won the 2010 Nobel economics prize Monday for developing a theory that helps explain how many people can remain unemployed despite a large number of job vacancies.

Federal Reserve board nominee Peter Diamond was honored along with Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides with the 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.5 million) prize for their analysis of the obstacles that prevent buyers and sellers from efficiently pairing up in markets.

Diamond _ a former mentor to current Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke _ analyzed the foundations of so-called search markets, while Mortensen and Pissarides expanded the theory and applied it to the labor market.


Senior citizens brace for Social Security freeze

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) _ Seniors prepared to cut back on everything from food to charitable donations to whiskey as word spread Monday that they will have to wait until at least 2012 to see their Social Security checks increase.

The government is expected to announce this week that more than 58 million Social Security recipients will go through a second straight year without an increase in monthly benefits. This year was the first without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation started in 1975.

Cost-of-living adjustments are automatically set by a measure adopted by Congress in the 1970s that orders raises based on the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation. If inflation is negative, as in 2009 and 2010, payments remain unchanged.


Poll: Weak economic growth expected through 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Top forecasters say the economy will grow this year and next at a slower pace than previously thought, weakened by governments and consumers spending less so they can pay down debt.

That's the finding of a new survey released Monday by the National Association of Business Economics.

The 46 economists polled tempered their expectations after seeing weak economic data in recent months. The panel reduced its forecast for annual economic growth to 2.6 percent in 2010 and 2011. That's down from its forecast of 3.2 percent in May.


Stocks end flat at the start of busy earnings week

NEW YORK (AP) _ The stock market finished at about the same place where it started Monday as traders waited for a packed week of reports that will give them a better view of where the economy is headed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average remained stuck in a 52-point range throughout the day, ending the day 10 points above the 11,000 milestone.

Traders have been pushing the stock market higher over the past two weeks, expecting that the Federal Reserve will act in the coming weeks to stimulate the economy and drive interest rates lower.


Microsoft bets big on new phone software

NEW YORK (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. knows the cell phone world is where it's happening, and it's determined to be a part of it.

After years of declining sales of phones based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile software, the company is starting with a fresh slate _ a completely new operating system for phones.

The new handsets will go up against Apple Inc.'s highly popular iPhone and the expanding number of phones running on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

The first phone with Windows Phone 7 will be the Samsung Focus, which hits AT&T Inc. stores Nov. 8 for $200 with a two-year contract requirement, Microsoft said Monday.


Gymboree agrees to $1.8 billion buyout by Bain

NEW YORK (AP) _ Children's clothing retailer Gymboree Corp. has agreed to be bought by asset management firm Bain Capital for $1.8 billion in what would be the sixth-largest private equity deal of the year.

Gymboree said Monday that the deal is for $65.40 per share, a 24 percent premium to Gymboree's Friday closing stock price of $52.95. The retailer, based in San Francisco, currently has about 27.3 million shares outstanding.

Gymboree stock surged 22 percent on the news.

The news did not come as a surprise, as speculation about a potential acquisition had been brewing for a few weeks.


Asian currency tensions simmer as dollar sinks

MUMBAI, India _ A surging tide of foreign cash has helped drive stocks in Indonesia and the Philippines to record highs, while India's market has been flirting with a lifetime peak.

That rush of money has forced local currencies to export-bruising highs.

Now many policymakers in the region have started to intervene to keep their exchange rates competitive, especially as China keeps a tight rein on its yuan. Many fear a quiet trade war is brewing, fought not through tariffs but through currency.


Chinese buy third of Chesapeake South Texas field

DALLAS (AP) _ China's state-owned offshore oil and gas company has bought a one-third interest in 600,000 acres that Chesapeake Energy leases in a South Texas oil and gas field.

CNOOC Ltd. and Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake announced the deal worth up to $2.16 billion Sunday in the Eagle Ford Shale project between Laredo and San Antonio. A joint statement says CNOOC will pay Chesapeake $1.08 billion in cash at closing and share 75 percent of Chesapeake's drilling and completion costs up to another $1.08 billion.

For Chesapeake, the deal provides capital to put toward drilling and other aspects of its Eagle Ford operation. For its part, CNOOC is looking to tap into the expertise that Chesapeake has used to cheaply tap reserves of oil and gas buried deep in shale rock formations.


Daimler recalling autos over power steering

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Daimler AG said Monday it was recalling more than 100,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the United States and the United Kingdom to prevent a loss of power steering fluid.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a posting to its website Monday that the recall involved Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicles from the 2010 model year and Mercedes-Benz E-Class vehicles from the 2010-2011 model years. The recall involves vehicles produced between June 2009 and late February 2010.

About 85,000 vehicles are being recalled in the United States and more than 22,000 are being recalled in the United Kingdom, the automaker said. Daimler said it was a global recall but did not have details on additional markets that could be covered.


Oil settles lower after dollar strengthens

Oil prices settled lower on Monday as the dollar strengthened and traders hunkered down ahead of some important economic news later this week. Benchmark oil for November delivery lost 45 cents to settle at $82.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

At the pump, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to $2.807, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That's 11.8 cents higher than it was a month ago and 32.8 cents higher than a year ago.

The dollar grew stronger against other currencies on Monday. That pressured oil prices, because a stronger dollar makes crude, priced in dollars, less attractive to investors who buy it with other currencies.


Geron tests stem cell treatment on patient

NEW YORK (AP) _ Geron Corp. has begun testing an embryonic stem-cell treatment on a patient with spinal cord injuries, marking the first time such a medical therapy has been used on a human in a government approved study.

The company said it enrolled the first patient in the early stage study, which will look at the safety of the treatment and how well the patient can tolerate it.

The patient was enrolled at Shepherd Center, a spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation center in Atlanta, one of seven potential sites in the United States.


By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 3.86, or 0.04 percent, to close at 11,010.34.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.17 to 1,165.32, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.42, or 0.02 percent, to 2,402.33.

Benchmark oil for November delivery lost 45 cents to settle at $82.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil lost 0.29 cent to settle at $2.2790 a gallon, gasoline added 1.43 cents to settle at $2.1655 a gallon and natural gas lost 5 cents to settle at $3.601 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude dropped 31 cents to settle at $83.72 on the ICE futures exchange.