Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2014 5:55 PM

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Why the US will power the world economy in 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is back, and ready to drive global growth in 2015.

The U.S. is expected to grow in 2015 at its fastest pace in a decade. The economy is expected to expand 3.1 percent next year, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics. Plunging oil prices, improved job growth and other economic signs are helping fuel the optimism.

The acceleration of U.S. growth is a key reason the global economy is also expected to grow faster, at about 3 percent, according to economists at JPMorgan Chase and IHS Global Insight.

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AirAsia's brash CEO in spotlight after jet disappears

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Tony Fernandes — who built AirAsia into a success on cheap fares, a love of the spotlight and occasionally provocative advertising — is now facing the horror of the disappearance of an AirAsia jet with 162 people on board. In a tweet to employees, he said that this is his worst nightmare.

A massive air and sea search has turned up no confirmed sign of AirAsia Flight 8501, which vanished from radar Sunday morning about 42 minutes after taking off from Surabaya en route to Singapore.

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Being uninsured in America will cost you more

WASHINGTON (AP) — Being uninsured in America will cost you more in 2015.

It's the first year all taxpayers have to report to the Internal Revenue Service whether they had health insurance for the previous year, as required under President Barack Obama's law. Those who were uninsured face fines, unless they qualify for one of about 30 exemptions, most of which involve financial hardships.

For 2014, the fine is the greater of $95 per person or 1 percent of household income above the threshold for filing taxes. It will jump in 2015 to the greater of 2 percent of income or $325.

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Burger chain Shake Shack orders up IPO

NEW YORK (AP) — Shake Shack is bringing its burgers, milkshakes and crinkle-cut fries to Wall Street.

The burger chain filed for an initial public offering Monday, hoping to raise as much as $100 million. It didn't say how many shares it plans to offer, or at what price, so that number may change. It plans to use the cash raised to open more restaurants and to renovate existing stores.

Shake Shack Inc. plans to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "SHAK."

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Chrysler recalls 67,000 pickup trucks

NEW YORK (AP) — Fiat Chrysler is recalling about 67,000 model year 2006 and 2007 pickups because of a problem that could allow the trucks to be started without the clutch being depressed. Chrysler said one death is associated with the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the trucks in May after receiving a report of a child starting a pickup without using the clutch. The truck moved forward, striking and killing another child, the safety agency said.

The company said Monday that a wire in the clutch ignition interlock switch could break in trucks with manual transmissions.

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Chinese access to Gmail cut, regulators blamed

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese access to Google Inc.'s email service has been blocked amid government efforts to limit or possibly ban access to the U.S. company's services, which are popular among Chinese who seek to avoid government monitoring.

Data from Google's Transparency Report show online traffic from China to Gmail fell precipitously on Friday and dropped to nearly zero on Saturday, although there was a tiny pickup on Monday.

Taj Meadows, a spokesman for Google Asia Pacific, said Google has checked its email service and found nothing wrong on the company's end.

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Greece heads for early election, stoking financial concerns

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's government was forced on Monday to call early national elections, stoking financial concerns as investors worry the main opposition party will win — and want to renege on the country's bailout deal.

The Athens stock market closed 3.9 percent lower, recovering from an earlier 11.3 percent plunge on news of the election, which was triggered by parliament's failure to elect a new Greek president.

Investors fear the left-wing opposition Syriza party, which has a narrow but steady lead in opinion polls, might act on popular resentment at six years of government austerity by seeking to overhaul the international bailout deal.

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S. Korea officials face punishment over 'nut rage'

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Four South Korean officials will be punished for improper conduct during an investigation into a former Korean Air Lines executive who forced a flight to return over a bag of macadamia nuts, the Transport Ministry said Monday.

The punishments could include dismissals, salary reductions or formal reprimands.

Earlier this month, Cho Hyun-ah forced a plane to return to the gate and kicked off an attendant because she had been served nuts in a bag, not on a plate. The ministry has been under fire following revelations that some officials leaked information and committed other improper acts during the investigation.

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Walgreen shareholders give blessing to Alliance Boots deal

Walgreen shareholders have voted in favor of the nation's largest drugstore chain spending nearly $16 billion to complete the final step in its purchase of European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots.

Walgreen bought a 45 percent stake in Alliance Boots, which runs the United Kingdom's largest pharmacy chain, in 2012 for about $6.7 billion in cash and stock. The Deerfield, Illinois, company then said in August that it would buy the remaining stake.

The deal is expected to close Wednesday. The combined company will be called Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15.48 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 18,038.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.80 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,090.57. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.05 points to 4,806.91.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.12 to close at $53.61 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.57 to close at $57.88 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 5.6 cents to close at $1.453 a gallon. Heating oil fell 5.9 cents to close at $1.849 a gallon. Natural gas rose 18.2 cents to close at $3.189 per 1,000 cubic feet.