Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Sep 07, 2012 6:27 PM
Business Highlights

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Weak job growth makes bold Fed action more likely

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs in August, a tepid figure that points to the economy's persistent weakness.

The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July. That was because more people gave up looking for jobs. People out of work are counted as unemployed only if they're looking for a job.

The sluggish job growth could slow the momentum President Barack Obama hoped to gain from his speech Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention.

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Soup's On: Campbell Soup looks beyond iconic cans

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — If your lunch still consists of a bowl of Campbell's tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, chances are you grew up using a typewriter.

Younger generations of Americans have moved on from Campbell's condensed chicken noodle and tomato soups in search of heartier varieties with more sophisticated flavors. Now, the world's largest soup company is moving to do the same.

Campbell Soup Co. last year began a quest that led executives to a diverse group of cities including Portland, Ore., and London to figure out how to make soups that appeal to younger, finicky customers. In the year ahead, the 143-year-old company plans to roll out 50 products, such as Moroccan Style Chicken and Spicy Chorizo. The ingredients may surprise those used to a plain bowl of chicken soup: tomatillos, coconut milk and shitake mushrooms.

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Coca-Cola's newest drink is just a few drops

NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola's newest drink won't come in a bottle or a can. And people will only need a squirt or two as they quench their thirst.

The world's largest beverage company is introducing its Dasani Drops in coming weeks, which can be squeezed into water for some on-the-spot fruity flavor. And Coca-Cola is betting that there's big potential for growth.

The Coca-Cola Co. isn't the first to come out with flavor drops. The category was pioneered by Kraft Food Inc.'s MiO, which was introduced in March of last year and has quickly spawned copycats, including supermarkets that sell store-brand versions.

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Intel warns 3Q revenue will drop on PC weakness

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Intel's sales are falling at a rate that blindsided the chip-maker's management, amplifying Wall Street's worries about the slumping personal computer market and the frail economy.

The foreboding news came out Friday in revisions to Intel Corp.'s financial guidance for its current quarter.

The world's largest maker of computer chips now expects to post third-quarter revenue of $13.2 billion. That would be a 7 percent decline from the same time last year when Intel's revenue was $14.2 billion.

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Creditors expect decision on AMR by year-end

DALLAS (AP) — AMR Corp.'s bankruptcy creditors expect the parent company of American Airlines to decide by year-end whether to merge with another airline or remain an independent company.

The committee representing AMR's unsecured creditors made the comment in a footnote to a bankruptcy court filing on Friday.

Since filing for bankruptcy protection in November, AMR management has favored remaining independent. But US Airways has pushed for a merger, and AMR agreed to work with its creditors to consider merger possibilities.

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Kmart waives layaway fee, joining rivals

NEW YORK (AP) — The layaway wars are heating up ahead of the winter holidays.

Kmart, a division of Sears Holdings Corp., said Friday that it's waiving the fees that shoppers pay to open an interest-free pay-over-time program at its discount stores and online through Nov. 17.

The parent company, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., plans to do the same for its Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores, but Jai Holtz, vice president of financial services for Sears Holdings, says it's still finalizing the time frame. Both Kmart and Sears have charged $5 for an 8-week layaway contract and $10 for a 12-week program.

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Kraft expects long-term growth at new North American foods company

NEW YORK (AP) — Kraft said Friday that its new North American food company will be positioned to deliver long-term profit and revenue growth, while also returning cash to its shareholders.

Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft told investors at a conference in Boston that it expects the North American grocery company to post a 2013 profit of about $2.60 per share. The prediction includes 26 cents per share in restructuring costs.

Kraft Foods Inc. is set to split into two companies on Oct. 1. Kraft decided to spin off its global snack business in March. That company, called Mondelez International Inc., will be home to global brands including Oreo, Cadbury and Nabisco and will trade under the ticker symbol "MDLZ."

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Kroger profit dips as costs rise

NEW YORK (AP) — The Kroger Co. said Friday that its profit dipped slightly in the second quarter, as the nation's largest traditional grocer faced higher expenses and an increased tax rate.

The Cincinnati-based company said a key sales figure rose during the period as its loyalty program helped attract shoppers. But merchandise costs — which include advertising, warehouse and transportation expenses — also rose 4.3 percent.

Like other supermarkets, Kroger has been paying more to stock its shelves because of rising commodity costs. The company has tried to offset the impact by introducing more store-brand items and fewer brand-name products.

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J&J again seeks more approvals for clot blocker

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson said Friday that it has given the Food and Drug Administration additional data on its new anticlotting drug, in a second attempt to get approval for more uses.

Xarelto already is approved for three things: reducing risk of blood clots in people who've had knee replacement surgery or hip replacement surgery and for reducing stroke risk in people with a common irregular heart rhythm — atrial fibrillation — not caused by a heart valve problem.

It's part of a new generation of blood thinners seen as big money makers by analysts and the pharmaceutical industry, and viewed by doctors and patients as possible improvements over the long-time standard, warfarin. Warfarin, sold under brands including Coumadin, is inexpensive but requires frequent blood tests to get the dosage right to prevent dangerous internal bleeding.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.64 points to close at 13,306.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 5.80 points to 1,437.92. The Nasdaq composite barely moved, up 0.61 points at 3,136.42.

Benchmark crude rose 89 cents to finish at $96.42 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 76 cents to end at $114.25 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to finish at $3.02 a gallon. Heating oil rose less than a penny to end at $3.15 a gallon. Natural gas lost 9 cents to finish at $2.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.