Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: May 06, 2015 6:42 PM

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For some long-term unemployed, hope arises: A job audition

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bill Lewis was under more pressure than most new hires when he began a job in information technology last year in Monroe, Connecticut. Jobless for a year, he had eight weeks to persuade his employer to keep him and pay his salary.

A commercial mailer had offered Lewis something usually associated with actors or dancers: an audition.

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The first self-driving vehicle you see may have 18 wheels

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Although much attention has been paid to autonomous vehicles being developed by Google and traditional car companies, one truck maker believes that automated tractor-trailers will be rolling along highways before self-driving cars are cruising around the suburbs.

On freeways there are no intersections, no red lights, no pedestrians, making it a far less complex trip, said Wolfgang Bernhard, a management board member of Germany's Daimler AG, at an event in Las Vegas.

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Fries at the doorstep: Fast-food pushes into delivery

NEW YORK (AP) — On the same day McDonald's said it would begin testing delivery in New York, an order placed for two cheeseburgers, two large fries and a vanilla shake took about a half-hour to arrive at The Associated Press headquarters.

The whipped cream on the shake was a little melted, and an order of apple slices was missing. But the burgers and fries were warm.

The bill came to $23.32, including tip — nearly double the cost if a reporter had walked around the corner to the nearest McDonald's to pick up the food.

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Review: Small life enhancements come with Apple Watch

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple Watch isn't so much a lifestyle revolution as it is a collection of small enhancements that add up.

Apple's smartwatch has a wider range of apps than rival watches from Samsung, Motorola and others. In my few weeks with one, I've been following my favorite baseball team more closely. I've walked to places without staring at a phone screen for directions. I've stepped away from my desk more often — despite my annoyance at the watch for nagging me to move.

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Study: Top tech firms bypassing Asian workers for exec jobs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google, Yahoo and other major technology companies are far more inclined to hire Asians as computer programmers than to promote them to become managers or executives, according to a study released Wednesday.

The analysis uncovered a glaring imbalance between the number of Asian technology workers in non-management jobs and the number in leadership positions in Silicon Valley.

Ascend, a group focused on Asian business issues, based its conclusions on 2013 data filed with U.S. employment regulators by five Silicon Valley companies — Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and LinkedIn Corp.

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How do you get on QVC? Tips from entrepreneur Lori Greiner

NEW YORK (AP) — Take a product on a home shopping channel and sell out in a matter of minutes— it's the dream of many entrepreneurs.

Lori Greiner, who's sold her jewelry organizers, home decor and other products on QVC since 1998, encourages other entrepreneurs to try to get on air. Greiner, who's an investor on the ABC program "Shark Tank," has also brought some of the products she's invested in to QVC.

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Lending Club jumps as online lending continues to grow

NEW YORK (AP) — Everyone wants in the Club.

Shares of Lending Club advanced 4 percent Wednesday after the company reported better-than-expected results and raised its full-year outlook as more people discover peer-to-peer lending as a cheaper alternative to a traditional bank.

It's a positive bit of good news for a company whose the stock is down nearly 30 percent year to date as investors wait to see if Lending Club, and its competition, become as big as some investors believe it will be.

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Fed Chair Yellen says stock market prices 'quite high'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday described stock market valuations as high and said the central bank was carefully monitoring their impact on financial stability.

Coupled with weak economic reports in the morning, her remarks drove stocks broadly lower in Wednesday trading.

Yellen added, however, that the overall risks to financial stability are "moderated, not elevated" and she does not see the hallmarks of any bubbles.

She cited one reason stock prices were high: the meager returns on safer investments such as bonds because of low interest rates.

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Survey: Hiring by US businesses slows sharply in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies hired in April at the slowest pace in nearly a year and a half, a private survey found, as the strong dollar dragged down overseas sales and energy companies cut back on spending in the face of lower oil prices.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added just 169,000 jobs in April, down from 175,000 in the previous month. That was the fewest since January 2014. March's total was revised down from 189,000.

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US productivity drops at 1.9 percent rate in first quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. worker productivity declined in the first three months of the year as labor costs jumped, reflecting a slowdown in growth.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that productivity, which is the amount of output per hour of work, fell at 1.9 percent rate in the first quarter. Productivity dropped at a 2.1 percent rate in the final three months of 2014.

Labor costs surged at a 5 percent rate in the first quarter, after having increased 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

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UK 'flash crash' trader: I was just good at my job

LONDON (AP) — A British financial trader accused of helping to set off a "flash crash" on Wall Street in 2010 from his London home claimed Wednesday he was just good at his job as he fights extradition to the U.S.

U.S. authorities have accused Navinder Singh Sarao, 36, of contributing to the dramatic falls seen five years ago to the day through his use of lightning-fast software. They claim Sarao used a bluffing technique that allowed him to make nearly $880,000 on the day that the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 600 points in less than seven minutes.

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Tesla beats Wall Street forecasts on record quarterly sales

DETROIT (AP) — Electric car maker Tesla Motors delivered a quarterly record of 10,045 cars in the first quarter, and its results beat Wall Street's expectations despite investment in new products and factory capacity and the impact of the strong dollar.

Tesla's net loss widened to $154 million. The loss, $1.22 per share, compared to a loss of 40 cents per share in the January-March period a year ago.

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Whole Foods plans store geared toward millennials

NEW YORK (AP) — Whole Foods is planning to open a new chain of stores geared toward millennials as it faces intensifying competition from traditional supermarkets and big box retailers muscling into organic and natural products.

The company said Wednesday it's building a team to focus exclusively on the new concept and that it's already negotiating leases. Stores are expected to start opening next year, followed by a "fairly rapid expansion," it said.

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, said the stores will feature lower prices that appeal to younger customers, as well as a "modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection."

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Alexion Pharma to pay $8.4 billion for Synageva BioPharma

Alexion Pharmaceuticals will pay a huge premium to buy Synageva BioPharma in an $8.4 billion deal for a rare disease treatment maker that lost nearly $60 million in the first quarter and has no products on the market.

Alexion made the deal, announced Wednesday morning, more for what Synageva can offer rather than what it already provides. That includes access to a potential blockbuster drug and stronger footing in lucrative field where drugmakers can command top dollar for treatments without facing fierce negotiations from insurers and other payers.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 86.22 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,841.98. The S&P 500 fell 9.31 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,080.15. The Nasdaq composite declined 19.68 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,919.64.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 53 cents to close at $60.93 a barrel in New York after having reached as high as $62.58 during the day. Brent crude rose 25 cents to close at $67.77 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.6 cents to close at $2.037 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.1 cent to close at $2.016 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.4 cents to close at $2.776 per 1,000 cubic feet.