Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Sep 21, 2012 5:46 PM
Business Highlights


iPhone 5 launch draws Apple fans worldwide

In a now familiar global ritual, Apple fans jammed shops around the world to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone.

Eager buyers formed long lines Friday at Apple Inc. stores in Asia, Europe and North America to be among the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone.

For Apple the iPhone introduction is the biggest revenue driver of the year. Analysts expect the company to sell millions of phones in the first few days. This spring iPhone sales slowed from their historical growth rates, apparently because potential buyers were holding off for the arrival of the "5."


Darden profit rises ahead of Olive Garden revamp

NEW YORK (AP) — Darden Restaurants Inc. on Friday reported a better-than-expected profit for its fiscal first quarter as it prepared to revamp the menus for its struggling Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains.

The company also declared a quarterly dividend, sending shares up nearly 5 percent and briefly touching an all-time high.

At Olive Garden, the company's biggest chain, Darden has been trying to boost traffic by focusing on value and adding lighter options to the menu. Drew Madsen, the company's chief operating officer, said the desire for smaller portion sizes is reflected in the growing number of customers who are ordering an appetizer as a meal.


US, EU approve Universal takeover of EMI

BRUSSELS (AP) — Universal Music Group won approval Friday from American and European regulators to buy the famed British music company EMI, including the hugely lucrative Beatles catalogue. But the EU imposed stringent restrictions on the deal, forcing Universal to sell some of EMI's biggest acts, including Coldplay and Pink Floyd.

Universal will also have to sell EMI's classical music divisions, its French and other local branches and labels that are home to Depeche Mode and The Ramones.


GM recalls midsize cars to fix transmission cables

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is recalling nearly 474,000 Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn cars to fix a transmission problem that can cause the cars to roll away unexpectedly.

The recall affects 2007-2010 Chevrolet Malibus, Pontiac G6s and Saturn Auras in the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as a small number of exports. All the cars have four-speed automatic transmissions.

GM says a part of the transmission cables can break. That can cause the shifter to show that the car is in park when it's really in gear. GM says it knows of four crashes from the problem but no injuries.


American apologizes to passengers for flight problems

DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines is apologizing to its best customers for the recent increase in delayed and canceled flights. The airline sent email messages Friday to members of its AAdvantage loyalty program saying it was sorry for the inconvenience.

AAdvantage president Suzanne L. Rubin said the airline added staff in maintenance, reservations and at airports to help travelers.


Unemployment rates rise in half of US states

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates rose in more than half of U.S. states last month, the latest evidence that hiring remains tepid across the country.

The Labor Department said Friday that rates increased in 26 states. They fell in 12 states and were unchanged in the other 12.

Unemployment also rose in seven of the 11 key swing states in this year's presidential election.

Nationwide, employers added only 96,000 jobs in August. That's below July's gain of 141,000 and the average of 226,000 jobs a month added in the January-March quarter.


BlackBerry outage in Europe, Mideast, Africa

TORONTO (AP) — The chief executive of struggling BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion apologized Friday after an outage in Europe and Africa interrupted service for customers on the very day Apple Inc. released its new iPhone 5.

BlackBerry announced the outage in postings on Facebook and Twitter on Friday, and later said it resolved the issue. The service disruption lasted up to three hours for some BlackBerry users in those regions.

The outage brought up unpleasant memories of last year's troubles with emails and chat messages that left many users without service for up to three days.


Wal-Mart's holiday hiring to be up slightly

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Friday it expects to hire more than 50,000 people this holiday season and will be offering more hours to its existing employees.

The world's largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., said that this year's seasonal hiring will be up slightly from last year, although it declined to give a precise figure.

The discounter operates more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. and employs about 1.4 million people nationwide. It is the nation's largest private employer.


Wal-Mart to open India stores in 12 to 18 months

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Wal-Mart plans to open retail outlets in India in the next 12 to 18 months, the company said Friday, making it the first multinational to jump on the government's decision to open the country's huge retail market to foreign players.

Raj Jain, the managing director of Bharti Wal-Mart, a joint venture that operates 17 outlets that cater to small businesses in India, confirmed by email that Wal-Mart plans to open stores that serve consumers over the next 18 months, but he declined to say how many.

India announced last week that it will allow foreign firms to take majority stakes in multi-brand stores for the first time. The surprise decision cheered investors but sparked protests within the country.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 17.46 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,579.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.11 point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,460.15. The Nasdaq composite, rose four points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,179.96.

Benchmark oil rose 47 cents to $92.89 in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose $1.39 to $111.42 per barrel in London.

Heating oil rose 2.32 cents to $3.12 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 3.85 cents to $2.9425 per gallon. Natural gas rose 8.8 cents to $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.