Apple's magic enthralls Main Street., Wall Street
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ It's easy to forget now, but Apple's magnetism was once confined to a cult-like following of geeks seduced by the elegance and simplicity of the company's computers.
Over the past decade, though, Apple has emerged as a trendsetter and a wealth-making machine _ the rare company that appeals to the cool cats hanging out in hip cafes and the fat cats looking to make another killing on Wall Street.
In the process, Apple has left an indelible mark that extends far beyond that first personal computer Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak introduced 35 years ago. Since then, Apple has transformed the music, retailing, marketing and cellphone industries. Now, it's engineering yet another evolution in computing with the increasingly popular iPad tablet.
Those achievements have endeared Apple to the masses, turning its product announcements into the technology industry's latter-day version of a Beatles concert and turning its familiar logo into an emblem of exquisite taste.
In the past decade, Apple's gadgets have transformed society, enabling people to bring along their favorite music, books, videos and websites almost everywhere they go. In the process they inspired countless imitators and ensured that Jobs, who resigned Wednesday, will be remembered as one of the most successful CEOs in American history.
Buffett invests $5 billion in Bank of America
NEW YORK (AP) _ Warren Buffett is coming to the rescue of another stumbling giant.
Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced Thursday that it would invest $5 billion in Bank of America Corp., giving a much-needed vote of confidence to the struggling bank.
The bank's stock plunged 52 percent in the past year on concerns over the bank's mortgage problems and worries that it would have to sell large amounts of stock to shore up its balance sheet.
Much of the Charlotte, N.C., bank's problems stem from its 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp., the country's largest mortgage lender. Bank of America has been under heavy pressure from investors for selling them securities based on mortgages that later lost value.
Buffett, one of the most successful and respected investors of all time, has lent his credibility to several other icons of American business at times when investors' confidence in them was waning. His investments have usually proven to be both prescient and profitable.
Buffett pumped $5 billion into Goldman Sachs Group Inc. at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, helping to reverse a crisis of confidence in the investment bank and the U.S. banking system in general. He also invested $3 billion in General Electric Co.
Low rates squeeze savers and may hold back economy
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Super-low interest rates haven't done what they usually do after a recession. They haven't ignited economic growth or revived the home market or persuaded consumers to spend freely again.
They have, though, caused misery for retirees and others who depend on interest income. Such income plummeted 27 percent from 2008 to last year.
Now, some economists worry that low rates might be hurting the economy itself _ defeating the purpose of the Federal Reserve's low-rate policies. When savers earn less, they spend less. And spending by individuals drives about 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
Those concerns arise 2 1/2 years after the Fed pushed short-term rates to near zero, part of an effort to combat the gravest recession since the 1930s. It's kept rates there since.
Refineries likely to shut as Hurricane Irene nears
NEW YORK (AP) _ East Coast refineries are likely to close in advance of Hurricane Irene's arrival this weekend, analysts say. The shutdowns will likely boost gasoline pump prices.
The storm pounded the Bahamas Thursday with winds of 115 mph and it could reach East Coast refineries, which are concentrated in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, by Sunday afternoon.
Refineries are already starting to turn off equipment.
It takes several days for a refinery to start operating again following a shutdown. And many would need almost a month to get back to full operation.
Gasoline futures rose nearly 2 percent Thursday.
AP-GfK poll: Views on economy, Obama role sour
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Americans' views on the economy and how President Barack Obama is handling it have dimmed this summer.
More people now believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows, and confidence in Obama's handling of the economy has slipped from just a few months ago, notably among fellow Democrats.
The survey found that 86 percent of adults see the economy as "poor," up from 80 percent in June. About half _ 49 percent _ said it worsened just in the past month. Only 27 percent responded that way in the June survey.
Verizon strike boosts unemployment aid requests
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Thousands of Verizon workers on strike pushed the number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week to its highest level in a month.
But excluding the work stoppage, layoffs appear to be stabilizing. That should help ease fears that the economy is on the verge of a recession.
Weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 417,000, the Labor Department said.
But last week's non-seasonally adjusted total included about 8,500 of those employees, the department said. About 12,500 striking workers filed claims two weeks ago.
About 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike Aug. 7. Unions representing the workers ended the strike earlier this week.
Delta confirms plan to buy 100 Boeing planes
NEW YORK (AP) _ Delta Air Lines on Thursday confirmed its plan to buy 100 Boeing 737 jets as part of a fleet upgrade, with delivery set for 2013 to 2018.
The order announced Thursday is valued at $8.5 billion at list prices, although airlines commonly get discounts. The newer planes offer perks for travelers including a roomier cabin, less engine noise and more room in overhead bins. But they also have huge benefits for airlines because they are more efficient, require less maintenance and burn less fuel.
The 737-900 extended-range aircraft from Boeing Co. have a single aisle and up to 180 seats when set up with economy and first class. They have the range to fly on any of Delta's current domestic routes. The 737-900 is the newest of Boeing's popular 737 model.
Hormel Foods 3Q profit up, lifts full-year outlook
Hormel Foods Corp.'s third-quarter net income climbed 15 percent as it charged more for its products and its overseas revenue rose, beating Wall Street's expectations.
The food maker also boosted its outlook for the full year, but investors were concerned that Hormel sold roughly the same volume of products in this year's third quarter and last year's, and its shares fell.
Hormel, which makes Dinty Moore stew, Jennie-O Turkey products, Hormel meats and other foods, earned $98.5 million, or 36 cents per share, for the period that ended July 31. That's up from $85.4 million, or 32 cents per share, a year earlier. All per-share results are adjusted to reflect a 2-for-1 stock split that went into effect Feb. 1.
Its revenue rose 10 percent to $1.91 billion.
Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of the 34 cents per share and revenue of $1.87 billion, according to FactSet.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 170.89 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 11,149.82.
The S&P 500 index fell 18.33 points, or 1.6 percent, to 1,159.27. The Nasdaq fell 48.06 points, or 1.9 percent, to 2,419.63.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rose 14 cents to finish at $85.30 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oil produced abroad, rose 47 cents to end the day at $110.62 per barrel in London.
In other energy trading, heating oil rose 2.42 cents to finish at $2.9932 per gallon and gasoline futures rose 4.59 cents to end at $2.8017 per gallon. Natural gas was up almost a penny to finish at $3.931 per 1,000 cubic feet after the government said the nation's supplies rose last week.