Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Sep 22, 2015 6:32 PM

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Volkswagen CEO: 'I am endlessly sorry' brand is tarnished

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen AG's smog-test troubles escalated Tuesday as the company acknowledged putting stealth software in millions of vehicles worldwide. The scandal has now cost VW more than 24 billion euros ($26 billion) in market value.

Volkswagen stunningly admitted that some 11 million of the German carmaker's diesel vehicles contain software that evades emissions controls, far more than the 482,000 identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as violating the Clean Air Act.

Volkswagen also warned that future profits could be affected, and set aside an initial 6.5 billion euros to cover the fallout.

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Clinton pushes plan to address rising drug costs

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is outlining a sweeping plan to hold down the rising cost of prescription drugs and target drug companies that flood the airwaves with ads.

The Democratic presidential candidate said at a forum in Iowa on Tuesday that she wants to protect consumers while promoting innovation and putting an end to profiteering in the pharmaceutical industry.

Her plan would place a monthly cap of $250 on covered out-of-pocket prescription drug costs to help patients with chronic or serious health conditions. It would also deny tax breaks for televised direct-to-consumer advertising and require drug companies that receive taxpayers' support to invest in research and development.

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Starbucks: Mobile order-and-pay now available nationally

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks says its mobile app that lets people order and pay in advance will be available nationally starting Tuesday. That means lattes, breakfast sandwiches and other items you want could theoretically be waiting for you by the time you arrive.

Mobile order-and-pay is still rare, but could become more common as fast-food chains look to keep up with changing expectations. Taco Bell also introduced a mobile app last year that lets people order and pay in advance, and Wendy's says it's testing the option. If it works well, companies see such services and mobile apps in general as a way to build customer loyalty.

Starbucks Corp. introduced order-and-pay ahead in Portland, Oregon late last year and has since expanded it to 3,400 of its more than 7,400 company-owned U.S. stores. On Tuesday, it will roll out the option to the remainder of locations, including those in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.

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US rental home prices rise at slower pace in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home rents rose at a slower pace in August, a downshift that may reflect the rise of apartment construction in many major cities.

Median rents rose a seasonally adjusted 3.8 percent from a year ago, off from the annual pace of 4.2 percent in July, real estate firm Zillow said Tuesday. Rental prices are still climbing at a faster pace than average earnings, increasing the financial burden of housing and potentially delaying the accumulation of savings to buy a home.

Rental increases tailed off in several metro areas in August. In Los Angeles, the pace slipped to 4.2 percent from 4.8 percent. Similar slowdowns were seen in Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix and Denver last month.

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Bank of America shareholders let Moynihan keep CEO, chairman jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan will keep both his CEO and chairman positions following a Tuesday vote by shareholders.

It was a significant win for the bank, which had lobbied hard for the dual role.

Only 63 percent of eligible shareholders voted in favor, however, far from a solid majority, showing how far the bank must still go to win the trust of its investors.

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Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein says he has lymphoma

NEW YORK (AP) — Goldman Sachs CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein has a form of lymphoma, but says that it is "highly curable."

Blankfein wrote on the firm's website Tuesday that he underwent a series of tests after not feeling well for several weeks. The executive said he'll receive chemotherapy in New York over the next several months as part of his cancer treatment plan.

He will be reducing his travel, but expects to be able to "work substantially as normal."

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Clinton opposes construction of Keystone XL pipeline

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she opposes construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, breaking her longstanding silence over the construction of a project assailed by environmentalists as a threat to the planet's climate.

The announcement was viewed with disappointment in Canada, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said as recently as last month that he was confident the next U.S. president would approve the project.

Clinton said she would roll out a plan aimed at fighting climate change in a few days and noted proposals released earlier in the campaign that would bolster solar energy and produce more renewable energy.

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Coca-Cola: We spent $118.6 million on health efforts in 5 years

NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola disclosed Tuesday that it spent $118.6 million on health research and partnerships in the U.S. over the past five years, including funding for a group that was criticized for downplaying the role of sugary drinks in fueling obesity.

The world's biggest beverage maker had vowed last month to be more transparent about the various health programs and messaging it funds. The pledge came after a New York Times story detailed the company's financial support for the Global Energy Balance Network. The story said the group promotes the idea that people are overly fixated on how much they're eating and drinking, rather than how much they're exercising.

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Microsoft Office update emphasizes collaboration

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft has released a major update for Office, one of its most successful software products, with new features that reflect the company's effort to adapt to shifts in how people use computers and software.

The updated versions of Microsoft's popular word processing, spreadsheet and email programs are heavy on collaboration tools that let people share information and work together online. Multiple people will be able to edit the same document simultaneously. As you start typing on a Word document, for instance, the letters immediately appear on your collaborator's screen with a flag showing you as the author.

Competitors including Google have offered this feature in their online editing software, and Microsoft has had a version in the Web version of Office. Microsoft executive Jared Spataro said it's the first time it's available in the more powerful stand-alone product.

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Groupon to cut 1,100 jobs, about 10 percent of workforce

NEW YORK (AP) — Groupon is cutting 1,100 jobs in the coming year, roughly 10 percent of its workforce.

The e-commerce and online deals company said in a blog post Tuesday that the cuts are mainly in its international business. Having already closed its operations in Greece and Turkey, Groupon said it is also leaving Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Thailand and Uruguay.

The Chicago company said it wants to focus its money and energy on fewer countries.

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Leading e-book subscription service going out of business

NEW YORK (AP) — A leading e-book subscription company is going out of business.

Oyster, which has touted unlimited access to more than 1 million books for $9.95 a month, announced on its blog Monday that it was "taking steps to sunset the existing Oyster service over the next several months."

Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and other publishers have looked to streaming services such as Oyster and Scribd as ways to generate new revenue, but many in the industry have been skeptical that the Netflix model works for books and fear that subscriptions will drive down prices overall. Oyster also faced competition from Scribd and Amazon.com's Kindle Unlimited program and an e-book market that has been flat in recent years.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 179.72 points, or 1.1 percent, to 16,330.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 24.23 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,942.74. The Nasdaq composite lost 72.23 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,756.72.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 85 cents to close at $45.83 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, an international benchmark, rose 16 cents to close at $49.08 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 cents to close at $1.416 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.8 cents to close at $1.532 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.4 cents to close at $2.577 per 1,000 cubic feet.