Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 14, 2015 8:21 AM

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Top beer makers to join forces to face industry challenges

BRUSSELS (AP) — The world's biggest beer maker clinched a deal Tuesday to take over its nearest rival in a bid to stave off the megabrewers' most serious problems: the surge in popularity of craft brews and weakening sales in the rich markets of the U.S. and Europe.

SABMiller accepted in principle a takeover bid worth 69 billion pounds ($106 billion) from Anheuser Busch InBev in a deal that seeks strength in size. The combined company would control nearly a third of the global market.

Belgium-based AB InBev, already the world's largest brewer, makes Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois and Beck's. SABMiller, based in London, has Miller Genuine Draft, Peroni and Milwaukee's Best among its 200 or so brands.

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Scandal-hit Volkswagen to change diesel emissions technology

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen's flagship brand plans to change its diesel technology in Europe and North America as well as develop new hybrid and electric vehicles in response to its emissions scandal.

The new steps were part of a plan to confront the company's scandal over cars that were equipped with computer software that let them evade U.S. emissions tests.

Volkswagen division head Herbert Diess said in a statement Tuesday the company would change its approach to diesel emissions in Europe and North America and adopt so-called selective catalytic converter technology, or SCR. That is a system that injects the chemical substance urea into the exhaust stream to neutralize harmful nitrogen oxides.

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China September imports plunge in new sign of weakness

BEIJING (AP) — China's imports fell by an unexpectedly wide margin in September in a new sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy.

Imports plunged 20.4 percent from a year earlier to $145.2 billion, customs data showed Tuesday, worse than August's 5.5 percent decline and analysts' expectations of about 15 percent. Exports shrank 3.7 percent, though that was an improvement from the previous month's 13.8 percent decline.

Weakness in trade has fueled doubts Beijing can hit its economic growth target this year of about 7 percent.

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JPMorgan earns $6.27 billion in 3Q; misses estimates

NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. says its third-quarter profit rose 22 percent from a year earlier, but the bank's results still missed analysts' expectations.

The largest U.S. bank by assets said Wednesday it earned $6.27 billion after payments to preferred shareholders. That compares to a profit of $5.13 billion a year earlier. On a per share basis, the bank earned $1.68 per share, compared with $1.35 per share a year earlier.

Removing one-time items, the bank earned $1.32 a share. That missed the $1.37 per share analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting, which typically excludes one-time items. Net revenue at the bank totaled $22.8 billion, compared with $24.5 billion in the same period a year earlier.

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Johnson & Johnson posts mixed 3Q results, authorizes buyback

Johnson & Johnson, continuing a tough year of declining revenue, posted a 29 percent drop in third-quarter earnings as it was hammered by plunging sales of its hepatitis C medicine and unfavorable currency exchange rates.

The health care bellwether's results were also hurt by comparison to a year-ago when it had a $2 billion gain from selling a large diagnostics business.

Company executives on Tuesday tried to put a positive spin on the results, saying that underlying performance remained strong after excluding multiple negative factors. J&J raised its profit forecast and announced a $10 billion stock buyback plan that will be financed by issuing new debt.

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Toyota promises better mileage and ride with Prius hybrid

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. released details for its fourth-generation Prius on Tuesday, promising that improvements in the battery, engine, wind resistance and weight mean better mileage for the world's top-selling hybrid car.

It gets up to 40 kilometers a liter under Japanese tests, which translates to more than 93 miles per gallon, a 20 percent improvement from the 2015 model. In the U.S., it gets 55 mpg in combined city and highway driving, about 10 percent better.

The Prius, which debuted in 1997, goes on sale in Japan in December, and rolls out in the U.S. and other markets early next year. A price was not announced, but it's expected to stay in the same range. The Prius now starts at about $24,000 in the U.S. and 2.4 million yen ($20,000) in Japan.

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Twitter purging up to 336 workers as new CEO slashes costs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter is laying off up to 336 employees, signaling CEO Jack Dorsey's resolve to slash costs while the company struggles to make money.

The cutbacks announced Tuesday could equate to about 8 percent of Twitter's workforce of 4,100 people.

The purge comes two weeks after Twitter brought back one of its co-founders as permanent CEO in hopes that Dorsey would be able to resolve problems that have slowed user growth at the messaging service and compounded an uninterrupted cycle of financial losses.

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Less skin: Playboy to stop running pictures of nude women

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Playboy is about to find out how many people really do read it for the articles.

The magazine that helped usher in the sexual revolution in the 1950s and '60s by bringing nudity into America's living rooms — or at least its sock drawers — announced this week that it will no longer run photos of naked women.

Playboy has seen its circulation plunge in recent decades as it has fallen victim to some of the very forces it helped set in motion. First it had to deal with competition from more sexually explicit magazines like Penthouse and Hustler. Now the Internet is awash in high-definition porn.

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Starbucks starting delivery in Empire State Building

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks will start offering delivery within the Empire State Building Tuesday, giving office workers in the skyscraper the option of paying a $2 fee to avoid making a trip to the lobby.

The Seattle-based coffee chain says 12,000 employees who work in the New York City building will be able to place orders on a designated website, and have their food and drinks delivered within a half hour. The orders will be delivered to a drop-off area, such as the office's reception desk.

Starbucks Corp. says the service is in line with its push to make its offerings increasingly convenient. That includes the company's recent national rollout of mobile ordering, which lets people place orders ahead of time so their food and drinks are waiting for them when they arrive at their designated store. By the end of this year, Starbucks also plans to roll out delivery in Seattle in partnership with Postmates.

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Apple adds Retina displays to its iMacs

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple is adding Retina displays to its iMacs, which will enhance the text and the image quality of photos and videos.

The Cupertino, California-based company said its 21.5-inch iMac will have a Retina 4K display, while every 27-inch iMac will have a Retina 5K display. The 21-inch iMac, which starts at $1,099, and 27-inch iMac, which starts at $1,799, are available in three models and come standard with a new Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average declined 49.97 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,081.89. The Nasdaq composite dropped 42.03 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,796.61. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 13.77 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,003.69.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 44 cents to close at $46.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 62 cents to $49.24 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.7 cents to close at $1.314 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3.2 cents to close at $1.471 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3.7 cents to close at $2.498 per 1,000 cubic feet.