Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Mar 12, 2012 6:25 PM
Business Highlights

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Apple's market clout likely to draw more scrutiny

In everything it does, from product design to business deals, Apple strives for as much control as possible.

But as the world's most valuable company sets out to define and dominate the rapidly evolving markets it created with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple is likely to face antitrust regulators who want to curb its power.

Apple's clout is coming under scrutiny as the Justice Department considers filing a lawsuit against the company and five U.S. publishers alleging they colluded in a price-fixing scheme for electronic books.

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Interest spikes in Pinterest, notably from women

NEW YORK (AP) _ Clean and simple to use, Pinterest attracts people who need to organize the chaos of Internet-age information overload. It serves as an online scrapbook of images they find on the Web, a place to post fashion inspirations, decorating aspirations and more. It's a digital dream collage, a recipe box and a corkboard full of magazine clippings all at once.

The site's popularity has exploded in recent months, making it one of the fastest-growing websites in history. Its ascent to 10 million monthly visitors happened faster than Facebook, Twitter or any other site tracked by comScore.

What makes Pinterest's surge unusual is that it's driven not by the usual geek crowd of young men from New York and San Francisco, but by women, many of whom live in the Midwest and the central U.S. They use the sleek, photo-heavy website for fashion ideas, wedding planning and home design, or just to share photos of puppies.

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Gasoline price jumps a nickel over the weekend

NEW YORK (AP) _ After a brief respite, the price of gasoline is climbing again.

The average price for a gallon of gas rose a nickel over the weekend and is now $3.80 per gallon. That more than wiped out the penny decline seen last Tuesday through Thursday.

That's the highest price ever for this time of year. The average pump price has risen 52 cents a gallon this year as refineries and wholesalers pass along the higher cost of crude oil. Oil is up about 8 percent since Jan. 1.

Experts say the nationwide average could rise as high as $4.25 by late April. Besides high oil prices, a switch to summer blends of gasoline will drive the price higher.

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Spike in orange juice prices? It's pulp fiction

Orange juice drinkers can relax. Fears of a spike in the price of the breakfast favorite appear overblown.

Juice tainted with fungicide used in Brazil and other countries, and cold weather in Florida, raised the specter of an OJ shortage in the U.S. in January. Orange juice futures hit an all-time high. That could have translated into sharply higher prices on store shelves, leading more consumers to shop for alternative drinks.

Just a few weeks later those concerns have abated after the government said the juice is safe to drink and the weather has improved. There should be plenty of oranges, and juice, to go around.

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Government releases health overhaul blueprint for states

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Fifty million people in America lack health insurance and the law says most of them must soon have it.

The Obama administration Monday finalized an ambitious blueprint for new state-based markets that will offer consumers one-stop shopping along the lines of amazon.com.

It may sound simple enough, but getting there will be like running an obstacle course. The rule comes just two weeks before the Supreme Court takes up a challenge to the constitutionality of the law in a case brought by states. Many governors and legislators are on the sidelines awaiting the outcome, even as time is running out to act.

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Feds probe sticky throttles in 1.9M Ford sedans

Federal safety regulators have launched an investigation into sticky accelerators in more than 1.9 million Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable sedans.

It includes cars from the 2001 through 2006 model years. The Taurus and Sable models are nearly identical.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received at least 14 complaints about the problem. No crashes or injuries have been reported, but drivers have said it was difficult to stop the car.

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Bailout watchdogs condemn AIG tax break

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former members of a congressional panel that oversaw bailouts during the financial crisis blasted the Treasury Department on Monday for quietly granting a tax break worth billions to insurance giant American International Group.

The tax break amounts to a "stealth bailout" on top of the $182 billion that AIG received from the government, and it unfairly helps AIG, its shareholders and executives, former oversight panel chair Elizabeth Warren and others said.

Companies sometimes defer losses and use them to reduce the tax burden in future years. Companies that change ownership usually face strict limits on how much of a loss they can defer. But the Treasury Department granted AIG an exemption, handing the company $17.7 billion in profit, the former panel members said.

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PepsiCo revamps management team; Nooyi still CEO

NEW YORK (AP) _ PepsiCo Inc. revamped its management structure Monday in a move to strengthen its lineup of potential successors to CEO Indra Nooyi and leverage its scale as a global company.

The management restructuring puts John Compton, who heads the company's Americas foods division, in charge of all the company's global groups in the newly created role of president.

PepsiCo said Compton will also work with its regional groups for Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa to build brands, develop new products and cut costs. Compton, 50, started his career with PepsiCo when he was 22 and has been there ever since.

Brian Cornell, who was president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Sam's Club division, will take over for Compton as CEO of PepsiCo Americas Foods. The unit includes the Purchase, N.Y.-based company's Frito-Lay and Quaker foods and snacks businesses.

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Yahoo sues Facebook over patents

NEW YORK (AP) _ Yahoo is filing a lawsuit against Facebook over patents, following through on a threat it made last month.

Yahoo Inc. said in a court filing Monday that Facebook has infringed 10 of its patents covering advertising, privacy controls and social networking.

Yahoo threatened to sue Facebook last month, insisting that the social network license its patents.

Facebook pledged to defend itself vigorously against what it called "puzzling actions" by Yahoo.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones Industrial average closed up 37.69 points at 12,959.71. That marked four straight days of gains, only the second time that has happened so far this year.

The S&P 500 was virtually unchanged at day's end, up 0.22 points to 1,371.09. The Nasdaq fell 4.68 points to 2,983.66.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate gave up $1.06 to end at $106.34 per barrel in New York. Brent crude fell by 64 cents to finish at $125.34 per barrel in London.

Natural gas dipped to a new 10-year low, falling by 5.5 cents to end at $2.27 per 1,000 cubic feet. Natural gas prices have plummeted this year because of a recent boom in production and weak heating demand this winter.

In other energy trading, heating oil fell by 2 cents to finish at $3.24 per gallon and gasoline futures gave up nearly a penny to end at $3.32 per gallon.