Business Highlights

AP News
|
Posted: May 08, 2015 5:49 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — ___

US economy rebounding with solid if unspectacular job gains

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rebounding from a dismal start to the year, the U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in April, a solid gain that suggested that employers are helping fuel a durable if still subpar recovery.

The job growth helped lower the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in March, the Labor Department said Friday. That is the lowest rate since May 2008, six months into the Great Recession.

___

Cameron's triumph may weaken movement for Britain's EU exit

BRUSSELS (AP) — It might seem logical that triumph for David Cameron's traditionally Euro-skeptic Tories would boost the likelihood of Britain splitting from the European Union in a referendum the prime minister has promised to call by 2017.

But things are rarely so simple in European politics.

Victory has given Cameron his best chance yet to push through enough reform within the EU to avoid "Brexit." And the poor showing of the UK Independence Party — whose iconic leader Nigel Farage resigned after failing to win his seat — greatly frees up the British leader to seek a compromise with his EU counterparts.

___

FDA unaware of listeria in Blue Bell plant before outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials said Friday that they were never told of repeated findings of listeria at a Blue Bell Creameries facility before an outbreak linked to the ice cream turned deadly.

Results of a Food and Drug Administration investigation released this week showed the company had found 17 positive samples of listeria on surfaces and floors in its Oklahoma plant dating back to 2013. The FDA said Friday that it "was not aware of these findings" before doing its own inspection this year.

___

US wholesale stockpiles rose slightly in March

U.S. wholesalers expanded stockpiles modestly in March even though their sales fell for an eighth straight month.

Wholesale stockpiles edged up 0.1 percent following a 0.2 percent rise in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Sales at the wholesale level fell 0.2 percent after an even bigger 0.6 percent drop in February. Sales have fallen every month since August.

Economists are expecting sales to rebound in the coming months as the warmer weather lures shoppers back to shopping malls and auto dealerships. The pickup should fuel consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

___

American Airlines debuts new jet aimed for long flights

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — After years of delay, the world's biggest airline is finally using one of the newest passenger jets.

American Airlines began flying the Boeing 787 between Dallas and Chicago on Thursday — a warm-up for the jet's real role on long international flights. By August, American will be flying 787s from the U.S. to Beijing, Buenos Aires, Shanghai and Tokyo. More routes are in the works, company officials say.

___

Fiat Chrysler seeks new trial in Georgia Jeep fire case

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler has asked a Georgia judge for a new trial a month after a jury awarded $150 million to the family of a 4-year-old Georgia boy killed in a crash and fire involving a Jeep.

The company, which makes Jeeps, says the jury's award of $120 million for the life of Remington Walden and $30 million for his pain and suffering are "grossly excessive" and illegal under Georgia law. Fiat Chrysler, formally known as FCA US LLC, also contends the amounts are far higher than the largest awards in Georgia history that have been upheld on appeal.

___

FDA questions benefit of cystic fibrosis drug from Vertex

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health regulators have questions about the benefits of an experimental combination drug for cystic fibrosis, including whether the addition of a second drug ingredient adds to the pill's effectiveness.

The Food and Drug Administration said in an online review that Vertex Pharmaceuticals' drug improved breathing in patients with the deadly inherited disease, but that the effect was small.

___

New Malaysia Air CEO vows turnaround for battered airline

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines said its financial situation is more challenging than anticipated and it will shrink in size as it tries to overcome a tarnished image with the travel industry and the public.

Malaysia Airlines was battered last year by double jet disasters. Its government owner has brought in a new CEO, former Aer Lingus chief Christoph Mueller, to oversee a 6 billion ringgit ($1.7 billion) turnaround.

___

Bojangles climbs 25 percent after IPO raises $147.3M

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Bojangles surged 25 percent in their market debut after the chicken and biscuits restaurant operator's initial public offering raised $147.3 million.

Bojangles says its restaurants combine fast food speed with the quality of "fast casual" chains.

Fast casual restaurants have become a popular part of the IPO market of late. Burger chain Shake Shack Inc., chicken restaurant chain El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc., and sandwich maker Potbelly Corp. each raised more than $100 million from the IPOs in 2014 and 2015.

___

Wal-Mart targets one-time Target stores in Canada

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart, already Canada's biggest retailer, wasted little time in cementing that title after its rival Target retreated back to the U.S.

The company is buying 13 former Target stores and one distribution center and said it will hire 3,400 new employees. It is spending $290 million to buy and renovate the stores and said that will create 1,500 construction jobs.

Target Corp. closed the last of its 133 Canadian stores in April after a rough two-year venture into the country. It laid off more than 17,000 people and took more than $5 billion in charges.

___

McDonald's key sales figure dips in April

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) — McDonald's says a key sales metric edged lower in April, with weakness across most regions.

The world's biggest hamburger chain, which is in the midst of a turnaround plan, said Friday that global sales at established locations open at least 13 months fell 0.6 percent in April.

Paul Westra of Stifel Nicolaus said in a client note that the dip in the April sales figure was slightly better than the 1.8 percent decline forecast by Consensus Metrix.

In the U.S., the metric declined 2.3 percent due to ongoing competition and lower customer traffic.

___

To the beach! AAA sees most holiday travelers in 10 years

With more money in their pockets thanks to lower gas prices and an improved job market, AAA expects more than 37 million Americans to travel for Memorial Day, the most since 2005.

AAA said Friday that the number of Americans taking a trip of 50 miles or more will rise 4.7 percent to 37.2 million over the period May 21 to May 25. Nearly nine of 10 travelers, or 33 million, will drive to their destination, making for crowded highways.

Gasoline should be around $1 cheaper this Memorial Day. The average price for a gallon of gas Friday was $2.66. Last year on the holiday it was $3.66.

___

Switzerland's Syngenta rejects Monsanto takeover offer

BERLIN (AP) — Swiss biotechnology company Syngenta said Friday that it has rejected a takeover offer from Monsanto Co., a bid that it said greatly undervalued its prospects. Syngenta's shares jumped 17 percent on the interest, however.

Monsanto had offered to buy the company at a price of 449 Swiss francs ($489.84) per share, Syngenta said. Based on the number of shares issued, that would value Syngenta at 41.7 billion francs ($45.5 billion).

___

In Tech: Mobile app, mobile phone, online TV

NEW YORK (AP) — The iconic designer behind the simulation video games "Sim City" and "The Sims" wants people to tell stories visually on their mobile phones.

Will Wright has created a mobile app called Thred. The idea is to "explore and share visual ideas with friends" — through "threds" of images and links. For some, this can mean a collection of Internet jokes; for others, travel photos and articles. If you give Thred permission, it will access your phone's photos and track your location so that you can post a thread of the day's meals, or the snapshots of flowers you shot on a Sunday trip to the botanical gardens.

___

By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 267.05 points, or 1.5 percent, to 18,191.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 28.10 points, or 1.4 percent, 2,116.10, its biggest percentage gain since March 16. The Nasdaq composite rose 58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 5,003.55.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 45 cents to close at $59.39 a barrel in New York, ending a volatile week nearly flat. After finishing last week at $59.15 oil rose to its highest level in four months Wednesday before falling sharply Thursday. Brent crude fell 15 cents Friday to close at $65.39 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 0.2 cent to close at $1.992 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.8 cent to close at $1.954 a gallon. Natural gas rose 14.6 cents to close at $2.880 per 1,000 cubic feet.