Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Apr 25, 2011 5:58 PM
Business Highlights

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New-home sales rose in March after weak winter

WASHINGTON (AP) _ More people bought new homes in March, giving the battered industry a small lift after the worst winter for sales in almost a half-century.

New-home sales rose 11 percent last month from February to a seasonally adjusted rate of 300,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Monday. That follows three straight monthly declines. Still, the pace remains far below the 700,000 homes a year that economists view as healthy.

Sales of new homes fell last year for the fifth consecutive year and the market is showing no signs of rebounding. Economists say it could take years before sales return to a healthy pace.

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Netflix 1Q earnings soar on gain of 3.6M customers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Netflix Inc.'s attracted another 3.6 million customers to its video subscription service in the first quarter, the biggest growth spurt yet in a run that has established the company as a Hollywood power broker and Wall Street darling.

The financial results announced Monday topped analysts' forecasts. But management offered a cautious outlook that included a second-quarter earnings projection below Wall Street estimates.

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Kimberly-Clark to hike prices after profit falls

DALLAS (AP) _ Kimberly-Clark Corp., the maker of Huggies and Kleenex, said Monday it plans to raise prices, its third such announcement since the middle of March.

The company said it's merely passing along the higher prices that it has to pay for raw materials like oil and wood pulp. It also more than doubled its predictions for how much the prices for such commodities will increase.

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P&G raising some prices for retailers

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Shoppers could soon see higher prices for Pampers diapers, Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels.

Procter & Gamble Co. said Monday it raised U.S. list prices for those products because of rising costs for pulp, oil and gas.

The consumer products maker, based in Cincinnati, informed retailers of increases last week. Retailers will decide how much of the price hikes to pass along to shoppers.

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Barrick agrees to buy Equinox, outbids rival

TORONTO (AP) _ Mining company Barrick Gold Corp. said Monday it agreed to buy Equinox Minerals Ltd. for about $7.7 billion (7.3 billion Canadian dollars) in cash, topping an offer from China earlier this month.

The purchase price is $8.57 (8.15 Canadian dollars) per share. That's a 9 percent premium to Equinox Minerals' last trade, last week. It's also 16 percent higher than China's Minmetals Resources Ltd. offered.

Barrick Gold, already the world's biggest gold miner, said the deal will put it in position for significant copper production growth in Chile, a country with some of the world's most promising copper-producing regions.

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FDA says Merck drug successfully fights hepatitis

Federal health officials said Monday a highly-anticipated drug to treat hepatitis C made by Merck appears to cure more patients in less time than established drugs that have been used for 20 years. The agency has questions about how the drug should be combined with older medicines for the maximum effect.

The Food and Drug Administration posted its review of Merck & Co. Inc.'s boceprevir ahead of a public meeting Wednesday to consider whether to approve the medication. The meeting comes after more than 15 years of research to find a better therapy for a virus that infects about 3.2 million people in the U.S.

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Toyota car production plummets after tsunami

TOKYO (AP) _ Toyota's car production in Japan plummeted a staggering 62.7 percent in March due to a parts supply crunch following the earthquake and tsunami in that country.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's top-selling automaker last year, said Monday its domestic production in March was 129,491 vehicles _ the lowest since 1976 when Toyota started keeping production figures.

The magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 destroyed many factories in northeastern Japan, causing severe parts shortages for Toyota and other automakers.

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Best Buy CEO's pay package drops by half

NEW YORK (AP) _ The CEO of Best Buy received a pay package worth about $5 million in the most recent fiscal year, half what he got the year before, as the largest U.S. electronics retailer faces a slowdown in demand as consumers change the way they buy electronics, according to a document filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Brian Dunn, 50, received a base salary of $1 million and a performance-based bonus of $746,667, down 75 percent from his performance bonus the year before. Dunn received option awards valued at $3.2 million when they were granted, down 48 percent.

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Nintendo says successor to Wii coming in 2012

NEW YORK (AP) _ The successor to Nintendo's hit Wii console will arrive next year.

In disclosing its plans Monday, Nintendo Co. didn't say what the new system will do. The Japanese company plans to demonstrate a model of the new console at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which runs June 7-9 in Los Angeles.

Nintendo has dominated sales of video game consoles and sold 86 million Wiis since launching it in 2006. The Wii caused a splash with its innovative motion-sensing controller. Sports-style games such as baseball and boxing let players move their arms to simulate the pitching of a ball or the throwing of a punch. Nintendo also makes a step-board accessory, the Wii Fit, that allows players to do dance steps or yoga.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 26.11 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 12,479.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 2.13, or 0.2 percent, to 1,335.25. The Nasdaq composite edged up 5.72 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,825.88.

Benchmark crude for June delivery lost a penny to settle at $112.28 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude lost 33 cents to settle at $123.66 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil lost 1.73 cents to settle at $3.1989 per gallon and gasoline futures added less than a penny to settle at $3.2785 per gallon. Natural gas dropped 2.3 cents to $4.389 per 1,000 cubic feet.