Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2012 6:23 PM
Business Highlights

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Jobs lost to recession trickle back, but wages lag

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. job growth slumped in April for a second straight month. It suggests the economy is growing steadily but still sluggishly, which could tighten the presidential race.

The unemployment rate dropped, but that wasn't necessarily a healthy sign for the job market. The rate fell from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April _ mainly because more people gave up looking for work.

People who aren't looking for jobs aren't counted among the unemployed.

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Yahoo CEO faces calls for ouster after inaccuracy

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson faces calls for his ouster after just four months leading the troubled Internet company because of inaccuracies in his academic credentials.

A major Yahoo shareholder who exposed the misrepresentation Thursday is now leading the charge to dump Thompson for unethical conduct. In a Friday letter, activist hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb demanded that Yahoo's board fire Thompson by noon ET Monday or face possible legal action.

Thompson's troubles revolve around a misrepresentation of his education record at Stonehill College, a small school near Boston from which he graduated in 1979. Since announcing Thompson's hiring in early January, Yahoo had included two bachelor's degrees _ one for accounting and the other for computer science _ on the executive's biography. The dual degrees not only appeared on Yahoo's own website, but also in a legal document filed April 27 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

After being confronted Thursday by Loeb, Yahoo confirmed that Thompson received only an accounting degree from Stonehill. The company attributed the misrepresentation about the computer science degree to an "inadvertent error."

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Jobs report sends oil to lowest price in 6 months

NEW YORK (AP) _ The price of oil plunged to its lowest level in nearly six months Friday, falling below $100 per barrel for the first time since February. A drop in gasoline prices can't be far behind.

It's a welcome trend for motorists, with the summer driving season just around the corner. And it eases some pressure on the U.S. economy, which has shown only agonizingly slow growth in the nearly three years since the Great Recession ended.

Oil fell $4.05, or 4 percent, to $98.49, after a weak U.S. jobs report offered the latest evidence that the global economy is weakening, possibly reducing demand for oil. At the same time, there is mounting evidence that world oil supplies are growing.

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Postal Service: House must act to stem mail losses

WASHINGTON (AP) _ With financial losses mounting, the nearly bankrupt U.S. Postal Service is urging the House to quickly pass legislation that would give it broad authority to close thousands of low-revenue post offices, reduce labor costs and end Saturday deliveries.

At a meeting Friday, the Postal Service's board of governors said that a bill passed by the Senate last week doesn't go far enough to give the agency the latitude it needs. That bill would provide the Postal Service with an $11 billion cash infusion to help pay down ballooning debt but halt the immediate closing of up to 252 mail-processing centers and 3,700 post offices.

The Postal Service called the closings a critical part of its cost-cutting plan to save some $6.5 billion a year and regain profitability by 2015. Anxious for legislative action but uncertain when the House may act, the mail agency said it would proceed with planned closings after May 15, but in a "methodical and measured" way that considers the special needs of rural communities.

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Berkshire Hathaway's 1Q profit more than doubles

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Warren Buffett's company says its first-quarter profit more than doubled because Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s insurance units avoided major disaster losses and the paper value of its derivative contracts improved.

Berkshire said Friday that it generated $3.245 billion net income, or $1,966 per Class A share. That's up from last year's $1.511 billion net income, or $917 per Class A share.

Last year's results were hurt by $1.1 billion in insurance losses from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Australian floods and the New Zealand earthquake.

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Duke Energy earnings fall on construction costs

NEW YORK (AP) _ Duke Energy Corp. says its net income fell 42 percent in the first quarter because of cost overruns at a coal plant under construction in Indiana.

The company said its underlying earnings grew slightly, though, despite a mild winter that reduced electric power demand and earnings at electric utilities nationwide. Duke's earnings were boosted by higher electric rates in the Carolinas, reduced costs, and higher power sales and rates in Brazil.

The North Carolina-based power company said Friday that it earned $295 million, or 22 cents per share, in the three months ended March 31. That's down from $511 million, or 38 cents per share, a year ago.

Its revenue edged down to $3.63 billion from $3.66 billion a year ago. Analysts expected revenue of $3.61 billion.

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TransCanada reapplies for oil pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Canadian company trying to build the disputed Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. submitted a new application for the project Friday after changing the route to avoid environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska.

TransCanada said it applied again to the State Department for permission to build the pipeline to carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to a company hub in Steele City, Neb. From there the project would link up with other pipelines operated by the company to carry oil to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

President Barack Obama blocked the pipeline earlier this year, citing uncertainty over the Nebraska route _ a decision that drew fire from Republicans and industry groups.

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Ex-media mogul Conrad Black back in Canada

MIAMI (AP) _ Former media mogul Conrad Black arrived back in Canada on Friday, hours after he was deported from the U.S. following his release from prison, where he served about three years for defrauding investors.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Nestor Yglesias said Black was back in his home country but didn't say which city. The announcement came after Black was released from a federal prison in Miami.

Black's empire once included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London, The Jerusalem Post and small papers across the U.S. and Canada.

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Sprint CEO Hesse cuts his pay by $3.25M

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse on Friday said he's cutting his 2012 pay by $3.25 million after shareholder complaints about how his 2011 pay was calculated.

Sprint's board bases the CEO's pay on the company's performance, but departed from its guidelines last year to exclude the cost of selling the iPhone. That boosted Hesse's pay.

The iPhone is expensive for phone companies, since Apple charges them hundreds of dollars more than the phones sell for in stores. The phone companies figure they'll make their money back in service fees over the run of a two-year contract. Sprint started selling the phone in October, incurring big upfront costs.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones Industrial average closed down 168.32 points, or 1.3 percent, at 13,038. The S&P 500 slipped 22.47 points, or 1.6 percent, to 1,369, while the Nasdaq index fell 67.96 points, or 2.2 percent, to 2,956.

Benchmark crude fell $4.05 to end at $98.49 per barrel. Brent crude fell $2.90 to finish the day at $113.18 per barrel.

Heating oil fell 7.81 cents to end at $3.0088 a gallon. Natural gas fell 6.1 cents to finish at $2.2790 per 1,000 cubic feet. Gasoline fell 7.42 cents to end at $2.9758 a gallon.