Business Highlights

AP News
|
Posted: Feb 19, 2016 6:41 PM

___

US would let Apple keep software to help FBI hack iPhone

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration told a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday it would be willing to allow Apple Inc. to retain possession of and later destroy specialized software it has been ordered to design to help the FBI hack into an encrypted iPhone used by the gunman in December's mass shootings in California.

The government made clear that it was open to less intrusive options in a new legal filing intended to blunt public criticism by Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, who said the software would be "too dangerous to create" because it would threaten the digital privacy of millions of iPhone customers worldwide.

___

Stocks edge lower again, but wrap up best week of the year

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks inched lower Friday as the price of oil slipped and investors worried again about the health of the global economy. Chemicals companies fell the most. Despite the loss, the market still had its best week of the year.

Stocks declined as the price of oil slipped 4 percent, giving back some of its gains from the last week, and agricultural equipment giant Deere cut its sales projections. That helped touch off a wider slump that hurt chemicals, materials and mining companies. Consumer stocks like home improvement retailers and travel companies rose after the government said consumer prices are rising, a sign the U.S. economy is in good shape.

___

EU strikes deal on reform sought by Britain

BRUSSELS (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron has won a hard-fought deal for a less intrusive European Union after two days of tense talks with EU leaders, a commitment he said he needed to persuade UK voters the country should stay in the bloc.

The agreement is seen as a key stepping stone to the in-out referendum in Britain on continued EU membership that could come as soon as this summer.

After 31 hours of negotiations, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite wrote on Twitter: "Agreement #UKinEU done. Drama over."

___

US consumer prices show signs of acceleration in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in January, as the rising costs of housing and health care were largely offset by cheaper oil.

But the annual pace of inflation showed signs of acceleration. The Labor Department said Friday that prices have risen 1.4 percent over the past 12 months, compared to a year ago when annual inflation was close to zero. Consumer prices climbed at the fastest annual rate since October 2014.

___

IMF gives Christine Lagarde second term as managing director

WASHINGTON (AP) — The International Monetary Fund said Friday it is giving managing director Christine Lagarde a second five-year term.

Lagarde, the first woman to hold the post, was the only candidate nominated. Her new term starts July 5.

Lagarde, 60, was named the IMF's 11th managing director in 2011. She has led the multinational lending agency through the European debt crisis and a period of global economic stagnation which she's labeled as the "New Mediocre."

___

Deere's 1Q results top estimates, but cuts full-year outlook

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Deere cut its full-year earnings forecast Friday even as the agricultural equipment maker beat Wall Street's expectations for the first quarter. It has been dealing with weak sales of farm and construction equipment.

Its shares fell more than 4 percent.

Falling commodity prices have made farmers less likely to buy new equipment. Declining oil prices have also affected its construction equipment sales.

___

Higher interest rates boost Fannie Mae profit

NEW YORK (AP) — Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage company, said its net income in the fourth quarter nearly doubled on higher interest rates.

It also said Friday that it expects to pay the U.S. Department of Treasury $2.9 billion in dividends next month.

With that payment, Fannie Mae will have paid the Treasury $147.6 billion, above the $116.1 billion it received in government bailouts.

___

Safety advocate asks gov't to reopen Jeep fire investigation

DETROIT (AP) — An auto safety advocate is calling on the government to reopen an investigation of rear-crash fires in older Jeep SUVs after finding at least 11 more deaths since the vehicles were recalled.

The deaths show that the recall repair — installing a trailer hitch to protect gas tanks in low-speed crashes — hasn't been effective, said Clarence Ditlow, head of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety.

He is calling on the government to investigate, saying the Jeeps are unsafe and a remedy should be developed that saves lives.

___

Virgin Galactic rolls out new space tourism rocket plane

MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — Virgin Galactic rolled out a new version of its SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket Friday as it prepares to return to flight testing for the first time since a 2014 accident destroyed the original craft, killing a pilot and setting back the nascent industry.

A Land Rover with Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson standing through the sunroof pulled the ship in front of an audience inside a hangar at Southern California's Mojave Air & Space Port, where it was assembled.

___

China auto sales rise again in January on strong SUV demand

HONG KONG (AP) — New car sales in China rose by more than 9 percent last month as strong demand for SUVs offset a decline in sales of sedans, an industry group reported Friday.

Sales of cars, SUVs and minivans in the world's biggest auto market totaled 2.23 million vehicles in January, up 9.3 percent from a year earlier, according to figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Total vehicle sales last month, including buses and trucks, rose 7.1 percent to 2.45 million.

___

US to factories, sellers: make sure hoverboards are safe

NEW YORK (AP) — The government is cracking down on hoverboards.

In a letter to manufacturers, importers and retailers, U.S. regulators said they will seize or recall any of the of the two-wheeled, self-balancing scooters, which were a huge hit this holiday season, if they fail to meet recently-released safety requirements.

The Internet is littered with photos and videos of hoverboards on fire and spewing black smoke.

___

Oregon lawmakers approve landmark minimum wage increase

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers have approved landmark legislation that propels the state's minimum wage for all workers to the highest rank in the U.S., and does so through an unparalleled tiered system based on geography.

The measure passed the state House on Thursday and is headed to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who said in a statement she will sign it.

The move makes Oregon a trailblazer in the broader debate about minimum wage unfolding nationwide as the federal threshold remains unchanged from Great Recession levels.

___

Singapore Airshow announces $12B of deals from trade days

SINGAPORE (AP) — Organizers of the Singapore Airshow said $12.3 billion in airplane deals were signed at the event this week, a sharp drop from the last show in 2014.

Leck Chet Lam, managing director of Experia Events, said Friday that this year's figure was comprised of 10 deals, with another 40 made at undisclosed values. There were 24 undisclosed deals in 2014.

___

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,391.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 0.05 points to 1,917.78. The Nasdaq composite index rose 16.89 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,504.43.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.13, or 3.7 percent, to $29.64 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, slid $1.27, or 3.7 percent, to $33.01. Wholesale gasoline fell 1.3 cents to 95.9 cents a gallon. Heating oil lost 5.4 cents, or 5 percent, to $1.026 a gallon. Natural gas slid 4.8 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $1.804 per 1,000 cubic feet.