Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2011 5:26 PM
Business Highlights

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Bank of America earns $6.2B on accounting gains

NEW YORK _ Bank of America earned $6.2 billion in the third quarter on accounting gains and the sale of a stake in a Chinese bank, which offset lower revenue and income in its credit card, real estate and investment banking businesses.

Bank of America is also no longer the largest bank in the nation by assets, which fell to $2.21 trillion in the quarter. The Charlotte, N.C., bank ceded the bragging rights to rival JPMorgan Chase & Co., which reported total assets of $2.28 trillion.

The slimming down reflects Bank of America's strategy of cutting costs and selling off businesses that don't fit into its simpler banking model. CEO Brian Moynihan said in a conference call with analysts Tuesday he had begun the process of a "strategic transformation of the company."

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Yahoo's 3Q shows company remains in financial funk

SAN FRANCISCO _ Yahoo's third-quarter results showed little evidence of ending the financial funk that got former CEO Carol Bartz fired last month.

The performance, announced Tuesday, may increase the pressure on Yahoo Inc. to sell itself in parts or as a whole.

Yahoo earned $293 million, or 23 cents per share, in the July-September period. That represented a 26 percent decline from net income of $396 million, or 29 cents per share, at the same time last year.

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In rare miss, Apple 4Q earnings disappoint

NEW YORK _ Apple failed to set a new sales record in the last three months of founder and CEO Steve Jobs' life. Its financial results came in below expectations _ a rare miss for the company.

After several record quarters, the July-to-September period saw Apple biding its time, with no new iPhone or iPad releases.

Net income in the fiscal fourth quarter was $6.62 billion, or $7.05 per share. That was up 54 percent from $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per share, a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings of $7.28 per share.

Revenue was $28.3 billion, up 39 percent. Analysts were expecting $29.4 billion.

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Goldman Sachs loses $428 million in third quarter

NEW YORK _ Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reported a third-quarter loss of $428 million Tuesday, only the second quarterly loss since the investment bank went public 12 years ago.

Revenue from underwriting stocks and bonds plunged as businesses, unnerved by political wrangling in Washington and volatile markets, held off on new stock and bond offerings. Goldman also lost nearly $3 billion on investments in stocks, bonds and a stake in a Chinese bank.

Goldman's chief financial officer, David Viniar, attributed the weak results to volatile markets and the weakness of European banks.

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Stocks jump on reports of progress in Europe

NEW YORK _ Stocks are closing sharply higher on reports that Germany and France are moving closer to resolving the European debt crisis.

The Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday that France and Germany have agreed to expand a rescue fund. European officials are expected to take up the expansion along with other measures at a meeting this weekend.

Bank stocks were among the strongest performers.

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Social Security to hand out first raises since `09

WASHINGTON _Social Security recipients will get a raise in January _ their first increase in benefits since 2009. It's expected to be about 3.5 percent.

Some 55 million beneficiaries will find out for sure Wednesday when a government inflation measure that determines the annual cost-of-living adjustment is released.

Congress adopted the measure in the 1970s, and since then it has resulted in annual benefit increases averaging 4.2 percent. But there was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.

That was small comfort to the millions of retirees and disabled people who have seen retirement accounts dwindle and home values drop during the period of economic weakness, said David Certner, legislative policy director for the AARP.

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US adopts limits on speculative commodity trading

WASHINGTON _ Trading in commodities futures will be capped under a federal rule adopted Tuesday that seeks to clamp down on speculative trades, which some have blamed for driving up food and gas prices in the past year.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission voted 3-2 to approve the rule, which doesn't take effect until 2012. It was required under the financial regulatory overhaul.

Critics say the cap on futures contracts, which locks in prices, won't curb inflation. Liberals complain that the rule is filled with exemptions that would allow banks and hedge funds to continue speculative trading. Conservatives say too few companies can qualify for exemptions.

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Intel posts stronger-than-expected 3Q numbers

SAN FRANCISCO _ Intel says better sales of chips for laptop PCs and computer servers contributed to a 17 percent increase in third-quarter net income and a 28 percent increase in revenue.

The numbers are likely to provide some comfort for investors jittery about the weak state of the global computer market. But they don't change the underlying dynamics likely to keep PC demand depressed.

Net income was $3.47 billion, or 65 cents per share, compared with $2.96 billion, or 52 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding special items, earnings were 69 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 62 cents per share.

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Johnson & Johnson 3Q profit down 6 pct, sales up

Johnson & Johnson's third-quarter profit fell 6 percent as continuing product recall costs, rising generic competition and costs tied to an acquisition more than offset higher foreign sales.

The health care giant's U.S. revenue dropped 4 percent because of competition from generic versions of antibiotic Levaquin and several other prescription drugs, a two-year string of product recalls that have hammered its over-the-counter drug business and marketing costs to launch two new products. Those are Incivo, a hepatitis C drug J&J sells in Europe, and Zytiga, a pill for treating advanced prostate cancer after chemotherapy.

U.S. sales also were hurt by a severe shortage of J&J's chemotherapy drug Doxil caused by manufacturing problems. Doxil is one of hundreds of drugs, mainly used in hospitals, in such short supply that Congress is investigating.

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Coca-Cola 3rd-quarter profit up on volume gains

PORTLAND, Ore. _ Coca-Cola Co.' third-quarter profit rose 8 percent and beat Wall Street estimates as it sold more drinks worldwide and raised prices in North America, its largest market.

Coca-Cola has shown consistent growth for years, but like many of its peers, it recently has been struggling with rising costs for raw materials and Americans' cautious spending habits during the down economy.

Coca-Cola has weathered the downturn by investing heavily in its business. It has increased money for advertising, new products and plants. The company, like many of other companies, also has turned overseas for growth, particularly to emerging markets like India and China. And in North America, it adjusted it is raising prices and offering smaller package sizes.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 180 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 11,577. The S&P 500 index rose 25 points, or 2 percent, to 1,225. Bank stocks were among the strongest performers. The Nasdaq composite rose 43 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,657.

Benchmark crude rose $1.96, or 2.3 percent, to end the day at $88.34 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price many international kinds of oil, rose 99 cents to finish at $111.15 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose 1.41 cents to end at $3.0277 per gallon, while gasoline futures added less than a penny to finish at $2.7469 per gallon. Natural gas fell 13.5 cents, or 3.7 percent, to end at $3.553 per 1,000 cubic feet.