Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Apr 08, 2011 5:57 PM
Business Highlights

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Sales of wholesale goods slip in February

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Wholesale businesses boosted inventories for the 14th consecutive month but sold fewer cars, furniture and petroleum products in February.

Sales at the wholesale level slipped 0.8 percent in February, the first setback since June 2010, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Inventories rose 1 percent and have been rising for more than a year. The string of inventory gains pushed them to $438 billion, up 13.4 percent from the low reached in September 2009.

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US corn reserves expected to fall to 15-year low

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Rising demand for corn from ethanol producers is pushing U.S. reserves to the lowest point in 15 years, a trend that could lead to higher grain and food prices this year.

The Agriculture Department on Friday left its estimate for corn reserves unchanged from the previous month. The reserves are projected to fall to 675 million bushels in late August, when the harvest begins, or roughly 5 percent of all corn consumed in the United States. That would be the lowest surplus level since 1996.

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EU says Portugal needs about $114 billion in aid

GODOLLO, Hungary (AP) _ Europe's top financial officials said Friday that Portugal will need around euro80 billion ($114 billion) in rescue loans, but a tense election campaign in the debt-ridden country is set to complicate reaching a deal with opposing political parties.

A full-fledged adjustment program should be in place by mid-May, allowing the debt-ridden country to meet huge bond repayments in June, the EU's Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

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Johnson & Johnson settles bribery case with feds

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Health care giant Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $70 million to settle civil and criminal charges of bribing doctors in Europe and paying kickbacks to the Iraqi government to illegally obtain business.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday that the company settled the charges with the agency and the Justice Department without admitting or denying guilt.

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Toyota to suspend N. American plants several days

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday that it will suspend production at its North American plants in a series of one-day shutdowns this month as a result of parts shortages caused by the earthquake that hit Japan.

The temporary shutdowns will affect 25,000 workers, but there will be no layoffs, the world's No. 1 automaker said. A March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged auto parts plants in northeastern Japan, causing shortages.

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US airlines attempt to raise fares for 10th time

NEW YORK (AP) _ At least two major U.S. airlines are again raising round-trip ticket prices by $10 on some domestic routes as they try to counter rising fuel costs.

US Airways initiated the fare increase late Thursday on most routes. Delta Air Lines later followed, mostly on routes where it competes with discount airlines. JetBlue and Virgin America have already matched the increase, airline analyst Jaime Baker said Friday.

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Government lets Google buy travel software company

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Government officials are imposing significant conditions on Google Inc. as they allowed the Internet search leader on Friday to proceed with its $700 million purchase of airline fare tracker ITA Software.

The purchase will establish the Internet search giant as a key player in online travel. ITA gives Google control over the technology that powers the reservation systems of most major U.S. airlines and many popular online fare-comparison services, including Kayak, TripAdvisor and Hotwire.

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New Google CEO Larry Page reshuffles exec team

NEW YORK (AP) _ Google CEO Larry Page has promoted at least seven executives to head key parts of the company in one of his first big moves since he took over the Internet search company on Monday. The management reshuffle is an attempt at streamlining a bureaucracy that's sometimes bogged down Google even as it became the world's most valuable Internet company.

Page, Google's 38-year-old co-founder, took over from Eric Schmidt, who is staying on as executive chairman. Page has made it a top priority to cut out the bureaucracy and speed up innovation at Google, which is facing threats from new startups, such as Facebook, Twitter and the online deals company Groupon.

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By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 29.44 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 12,380.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 5.34, or 0.4 percent, to 1,328.17. The Nasdaq composite lost 15.72, or 0.6 percent, to 2,780.42.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil for May delivery jumped $2.49, or 2.3 percent, to settle at $112.79 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading for May contracts, heating oil added 11.37 cents to settle at $3.3197 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 7.42 cents to settle at $3.2607 per gallon. Natural gas lost 1.6 cents to settle at $4.041 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose $3.86 to settle at $126.12 on the ICE Futures exchange.