Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2010 5:56 PM
Business Highlights

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Citigroup profits jump as loan defaults slow

NEW YORK (AP) _ Citigroup Inc., one of the worst-hit banks during the financial crisis, posted its third straight quarterly profit in a sign that major banks and their customers are starting to find their footing.

Citi became the second major bank this quarter, after JPMorgan Chase & Co., to report a profit by dipping into funds it had set aside to cover future losses from bad loans. The move showcases confidence from the banks that their customers will continue to make payments on credit cards, mortgage debt and other kinds of loans.

The New York bank, which is still 12 percent owned by the government, earned $2.15 billion, or 7 cents per share, in the three months ended in September. The results beat analysts' expectations by a penny.

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Apple 4Q net income soars 70 pct; iPad falls short

SEATTLE (AP) _ Apple Inc. said Monday that net income for the most recent quarter soared 70 percent on strong sales of iPhones, though iPad sales fell short of expectations.

Shares fell in after-hours trading. Apple's stock had been breaking through record-high prices for more than a week on high hopes for the iPad.

Apple sold 4.2 million of its new tablet-style computer during the fiscal fourth quarter, fewer than the approximately 5 million that analysts, on average, had expected.

The company sold 14.1 million iPhones from July through September, more than the 12 million or so analysts were looking for. Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said in an interview that had the company been able to make more iPhones, that number would have been even higher.

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Bank of America starts thaw in foreclosure freeze

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The pace of U.S. home foreclosures may not slow much after all.

Bank of America said Monday that it plans to resume seizing more than 100,000 homes in 23 states next week. It said it has a legal right to foreclose despite accusations that documents used in the process were flawed.

It's not yet clear if other major leaders will follow suit and resume foreclosures in the states that require a judge's approval. But the move by the nation's biggest bank could give way to an industrywide effort to push ahead with a wave of foreclosures that have depressed the housing market.

Bank of America Corp. says it's confident of its foreclosure decisions in a majority of its questionable cases. The bank is still delaying foreclosures in the 27 other states, which don't require a judge's approval.

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Bank stocks push market broadly higher; Dow up 81

NEW YORK (AP) _ Upbeat news for banks and homebuilders pushed the stock market broadly higher Monday, extending its gains for the month.

Better-than-expected results from Citigroup Inc. drove financial stocks up by more than 2 percent, halting a recent slide brought on by questions into how banks have handled foreclosures. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 81 points.

Citigroup said fewer of its customers defaulted on loans, an encouraging sign that borrowers may be returning to financial health.

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Industrial production falls 0.2 percent in Sept.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sluggish spending by businesses and consumers is causing factories to cool their production after they helped lift the economy out of recession.

Companies have slowed their rebuilding of stockpiles and replacement of worn-out equipment. And consumers are cautiously spending at a time of 9.6 percent unemployment and slow job growth. That combination led to the first decline in output at the nation's mines, factories and utilities since the recession ended in June 2009.

Factory output, the largest element of industrial production, fell 0.2 percent in September, the Federal Reserve said Monday. So did overall industrial production.

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IBM raises guidance as 3Q beats expectations

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ IBM Corp. said Monday that its net income rose 12 percent as it wrung more out of its services and software divisions and gets a lift from a new mainframe computer.

The technology company also raised its profit forecast slightly for the remainder of the year, demonstrating its skill at increasing profits faster than its businesses are growing.

The stock fell, though, apparently on fears about a dip in IBM's outsourcing business. IBM said that business would have grown if a big contract hadn't been signed just after the quarter ended.

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Hasbro 3Q net income edges up; shares hit high

NEW YORK (AP) _ Shares of toy maker Hasbro hit an all-time high Monday after it said strength in its preschool toys helped third-quarter net income rise 3 percent and beat expectations.

The maker of Nerf and Scrabble also is bullish on the number of toys retailers have ordered ahead of the holiday season.

Lower entertainment revenue was offset by strength across many brands, including Nerf, Magic the Gathering and Playskool.

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Northeast Utilities to buy Nstar in $4.17B deal

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Northeast Utilities will buy Nstar for $4.17 billion, forming the biggest New England utility company with 3.5 million electric and gas customers in three states.

The acquisition should help Northeast pay for large transmission projects designed to bring low-carbon power from Northern New England and Canada to higher population areas in southern New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The combined company plans to spend $9 billion on these and other projects from 2011 through 2015.

The companies and industry analysts said ratepayers should benefit from both improvements to the power grid and cost savings the new Northeast may pass along.

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Report: Facebook apps transmitted personal info

NEW YORK (AP) _ The latest Facebook privacy fiasco shows that the world's largest online social hub is having a hard time putting this thorny issue behind it even as it continues to attract users and become indispensable to many of them.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that several popular Facebook applications have been transmitting users' personal identifying information to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies. Facebook said it is working to fix the problem, and was quick to point out that the leaks were not intentional, but a consequence of basic Web mechanisms.

In a statement, Facebook said there is "no evidence that any personal information was misused or even collected as a result of this issue."

Even so, some privacy advocates said it's problematic that the information was leaked at all, regardless of what happened to it. Facebook needs its users to trust it with their data because if they don't, they won't use the site to share as much as they do now.

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By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 80.91, or 0.73 percent, to 11,143.69.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.52, or 0.72 percent, to 1,184.71, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 11.89, or 0.48 percent, to 2,480.66.

Benchmark crude for November delivery rose $1.83 to settle at $83.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The price of natural gas prices continued to fall. The contract settled at $3.431 per 1,000 cubic feet, down 10.4 cents.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil rose 4.53 cents to settle at $2.2761 a gallon and gasoline gained 4.77 cents to settle at $2.1515 a gallon.

In London, Brent crude added $1.92 to settle at $84.37 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.


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