Business Highlights

AP News
|
Posted: Aug 22, 2011 5:41 PM
Business Highlights

___

Getting Libyan oil back to market could take years

NEW YORK (AP) _ It could be a year or more before Libya produces enough oil to start exporting it in large amounts again. But once the oil starts flowing, it should bring the price of gasoline down even further.

International oil prices fell Monday because of the prospect that those shipments will hit the market again.

The shipments stopped six months ago as the rebellion in Libya raged. The conflict damaged pipelines and fields and forced out foreign oil engineers who once helped the nation export 1.5 million barrels of oil every day.

Before the country can begin producing oil in large amounts again, security must be re-established, a new government must be formed, the United Nations must lift international sanctions, and damage to oil fields and pipelines must be repaired.

___

More Americans at risk of foreclosure in second quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of Americans at risk of foreclosure is rising, reflecting the U.S. economy's continued struggles.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday that 8.44 percent of homeowners missed at least one mortgage payment in the April-June quarter. That figure, which is adjusted for seasonal factors, rose 0.12 percentage point from the January-March period.

In a normal market, the percentage of delinquent borrowers is about 1.1 percent, according to the trade group.

Delinquent mortgages have plummeted from a record high of more than 10 percent of residential mortgages a year ago. But the decline is due partly to delays in foreclosure filings that are backlogged in several state courts, including Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and New York.

___

Survey: Small raises for salaried workers in 2012

NEW YORK (AP) _ A new survey says salaried U.S. workers can expect another year of modest raises in 2012.

After increasing salaries by 2.6 percent this year and last year, companies are planning a 2.8 percent bump in 2012, benefits and human resources consultancy Towers Watson reported Monday.

That's somewhat smaller than raises in the last decade. From 2000 to 2006, the year before the Great Recession began, salaries rose an average 3.9 percent for workers who were not executives.

And the modest bump may not help add much buying power for shoppers. In the 12 months through July, prices for consumers have risen 3.6 percent, according to the government's latest calculations.

___

Ford, Toyota to work together on hybrid trucks

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ A chance meeting in an airport lobby between the top executives of Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. has evolved into a deal between the auto giants to jointly develop a gas-electric hybrid engine for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The companies signed the agreement Monday to share development costs, saying they want to make the technology more affordable for customers and bring it to market faster. Many details have yet to be worked out, but both said their vehicles would remain unique even if they share the same drive systems.

The deal will help both companies meet more stringent fuel economy and pollution standards in the U.S. and elsewhere, while at the same time keeping larger vehicles viable if gas prices continue to rise.

___

Skype buying group message system GroupMe

NEW YORK (AP) _ Skype is expanding even before it gets absorbed by Microsoft Corp.

The online communications service said Monday that it plans to buy GroupMe, which provides group text messaging.

Skype lets users make calls, conduct video chats and send instant messages over the Web. Its basic services are free, while users pay for services such as calling regular phones from a computer.

The acquisition brings Skype into the quickly growing field of mobile group messaging, which has been rolled out on a variety of smartphone apps including one recently launched by Facebook. Skype already offers a number of group communication options, including Web-based conference calls and group video chats.

___

$103M to expand broadband Internet in rural US

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Telecommunications companies in 16 states will share more than $103 million in federal funding to help expand broadband Internet access to those areas of rural America that haven't been reached by the high-speed service or are underserved, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday.

Policymakers, public interest groups and telecom companies are seeking to bridge the digital divide by reaching even the most remote pockets of the U.S. with broadband internet, hoping to improve economic and educational opportunities there.

The states that will benefit from the funding are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

___

Lowe's to buy back up to $5 billion of its shares

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ Lowe's Cos., the nation's second-largest home improvement retailer, said Monday that it will buy back up to $5 billion of its common stock.

While the repurchase program has no expiration date, the Mooresville, N.C., company said it plans to use the full amount over the next two to three years.

Lowe's board also announced that it is declaring a regular quarterly dividend of 14 cents. The dividend will be paid on Nov. 2 to shareholders of record on Oct. 19.

___

Greece expects recession to deepen

Greece's finance minister said Monday that the crisis-afflicted economy will shrink more than expected this year, putting further pressure on the country's ambitious deficit-cutting effort.

Evangelos Venizelos said the ministry forecasts annual output to shrink in 2011 between 4.5 percent and 5.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

Venizelos had previously admitted that the recession might be over last year's 4.5 percent, a whole percentage point worse than initially estimated. The government has forecast a timid return to growth in 2012, but that now seems very unrealistic.

___

By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 10,854.65.

The S&P 500 rose 0.29 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,123.82. It had been up as many as 22 points. The Nasdaq rose 3.54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,345.38.

The price of U.S. benchmark oil, known as West Texas Intermediate, rose $1.86 to $84.12. Brent crude fell 26 cents to $108.36 per barrel.

In other Nymex trading for September contracts, heating oil lost less than a penny to $2.8954 per gallon and gasoline futures dropped 3.67 cents to $2.8045 per gallon. Natural gas fell 4.9 cents to $3.891 per 1,000 cubic feet.