Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 20, 2010 5:48 PM
Business Highlights

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Fed survey points to uneven growth across US

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. economy grew unevenly in early fall, with more than half the regions of the country expanding modestly while others struggled to grow.

A survey by the Federal Reserve released Wednesday found that seven of the Fed's 12 regions reported moderate improvements in business activity. Three regions _ Philadelphia, Richmond and Cleveland _ described economic activity as mixed or steady. Only two regions _ Atlanta and Dallas _ suggested economic growth was slow.

The survey indicated that the economy isn't weakening but is growing too sluggishly to drive down high unemployment, now at 9.6 percent. The jobless rate has been at or above 9.5 percent for more than a year.

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Delta, AMR, US Airways post 3Q profits

DALLAS (AP) _ Airlines can't control the economy, but by limiting the number of seats for sale they are pushing up fares and earning their biggest profits in three years.

Delta, US Airways and the parent of American Airlines all posted higher-than-expected earnings for the peak summer travel season. They were helped by rapid growth in international traffic and a budding recovery in corporate travel. Delta gave an upbeat outlook for the upcoming holidays.

Investors rewarded the companies by driving airline stocks sharply higher.

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Airline stocks lead market rally; Dow up 129

NEW YORK (AP) _ Airline stocks helped lead a market rebound on Wednesday that nearly erased Tuesday's big-sell off brought on by concerns over a slowdown in China.

Stocks rose as traders saw overnight gains in China as an encouraging sign that the country's surprise interest rate hike will not dampen the global economy.

A batch of positive corporate earnings reports from companies like Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines parent company AMR Corp. and Boeing Co. also helped send the stock market broadly higher.

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Wells Fargo profit rises as loan defaults ease

NEW YORK (AP) _ Wells Fargo & Co. reported a 19 percent increase in its third-quarter income Wednesday as losses from bad loans declined, a hopeful sign that American businesses and consumers are becoming more financially stable.

The San Francisco-based bank earned $3.15 billion, or 60 cents per share, in the three months ending in September, beating analysts' expectations by 5 cents per share. The bank earned $2.64 billion, or 56 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Fewer of Wells Fargo's customers defaulted on loans, and fewer were late in payments on their mortgage and credit cards. It was a common theme with other large U.S. banks that have reported results so far this quarter.

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Boeing tops 3Q forecasts as it sells more planes

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Boeing posted an $837 million third-quarter profit on Wednesday and raised its profit guidance for the full year as it sold more commercial airplanes.

Boeing has already made plans to raise production rates on the 737, its best-selling plane. The improved 2010 guidance reflects a strong outlook for commercial planes. Orders and deliveries have rebounded this year, reversing a decline that occurred when airlines pulled back on orders during the recession.

Boeing expects to deliver 460 commercial planes this year, at the low end of what it predicted in April.

The aircraft maker repeated its hope to deliver the new 787 in the middle of the first quarter of 2011, and the latest version of the 747 in the middle of the year. Both planes are late _ more than two years for the 787.

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Morgan Stanley posts 3Q loss on special charges

NEW YORK (AP) _ Morgan Stanley became the latest investment bank to report weaker results Wednesday from a trading slowdown during the summer.

The New York-based bank reported a net loss during the third quarter as revenue fell 20 percent and because of some special one-time charges. Even stripping out the charges, adjusted earnings tumbled from the year-ago period.

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6 months after oil spill, much remains unknown

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The crude has stopped gushing and coastlines are largely clear of the thick goo that washed ashore for months, but the impact of the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history will no doubt linger for years.

Six months after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, the environment and economy of the entire northern Gulf of Mexico region remain in a state of uncertainty, with overturned livelihoods, out-of-work fishermen, reluctant tourists, widespread emotional anguish and untold damage to the sea and its shores.

It could be years before the spill's true effects are understood. The science is largely scattered about what the roughly 200 million gallons of oil that spewed from BP PLC's blown-out well _ some 170 million gallons of which actually spilled into the Gulf _ will ultimately mean for the animals and plant life that inhabit one of the world's most diverse bodies of water.

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Apple looks to iPhone, iPad for Mac inspiration

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) _ Apple's iPhone and iPads have been such hits that the company is now looking for ways to bring some of their cachet to its laptops and desktops.

Apple Inc. offered glimpses on Wednesday of an updated Mac operating system, called Mac OS X Lion. The company highlighted features that borrow from the lighter-weight iOS that runs on its mobile gadgets.

The company also unveiled two new versions of its MacBook Air ultralight laptops.

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Netflix posts higher 3Q earnings as revenue grows

LOS GATOS, Calif. (AP) _ Netflix Inc. on Wednesday said its third-quarter net income grew as the online movie rental company continued to attract subscribers, particularly to its Internet streaming service.

The company also raised its subscriber growth forecast for the current quarter, sending shares higher in after-hours trading.

It now expects to have between 19 million and 19.7 million subscribers at the end of this year, up from its earlier forecast of 17.7 million to 18.5 million.

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By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 129.35, or 1.2 percent, to 11,107.97. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 index was up 12.27, or 1.1 percent, to 1,178.17, and the technology-focused Nasdaq composite index was up 20.39, or 0.8 percent, to 2,457.39.

Benchmark crude for November delivery rose $2.28 to settle at $81.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That contract expired Wednesday and trading moved to the December contract, where oil climbed by $1.38 to settle at $82.54 a barrel.

In other Nymex trading in November contracts, heating oil rose 6.55 cents to settle at $2.2548 a gallon, gasoline gained 3.43 cents to settle at $2.0826 a gallon and natural gas added 2.6 cents to settle at $3.539 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose $2.50 to settle at $83.60 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.