Business Highlights

AP News
|
Posted: Mar 14, 2016 5:42 PM

___

With no rate hike seen, Fed's outlook on economy is awaited

WASHINGTON (AP) — The financial world is awaiting the Federal Reserve's response to a critical question: How stable are the world's economies and financial markets?

In a policy statement and a news conference Chair Janet Yellen will give after its latest meeting ends Wednesday, the Fed will likely nod to improvements since it met in January but also stress uncertainties that still loom.

While some think recent economic gains may have the Fed inching closer to raising rates, most Fed watchers think the central bank wants more time to assess the financial landscape. Resuming its rate hikes too soon could slow growth or rattle investors again

___

Big Easy Airbnbs mushroom, sparking debate over city's soul

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tourists in New Orleans used to mostly stay in the French Quarter, but that's changing, due to more short-term rentals through websites like Airbnb.

Now tourists — some of whom come to party — are found in neighborhoods and locals are divided.

Some say the rentals help residents bolster income but others say the spread of tourism to residential areas hurts the quality of life.

Anti-Airbnb signs declaring "neighbors, not tourists" are common. Complaints against the rentals have doubled. Businesses and neighborhood groups have joined to press for restrictions. And the state is looking to tax them like motels.

___

Emerging player from China could disrupt Marriott plans

NEW YORK (AP) — A fight for control of the Starwood hotel chain is under way following a $14 billion buyout offer Monday from a consortium led by China's Anbang Insurance Group.

Anbang has quickly positioned itself to become a player in the U.S. hotel industry, recently acquiring a number of high-end locales in the U.S. Now it is going toe-to-toe with U.S. hotel giant Marriott, which said late last year that it would buy Starwood in a deal worth $12.2 billion.

Starwood said Monday that it still favors the Marriott deal, but that it's looking at the latest bid.

___

US stocks end nearly unchanged ahead of Fed meeting

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks barely budged Monday, finishing mixed as lower oil prices pulled energy companies down while hotels and travel-related companies rose.

Trading was quiet Monday ahead of the Federal Reserve's meeting later this week, which is expected to shed some light on the possibility of a future increase in benchmark interest rates. U.S. stocks missed out on a global rally that lifted stocks in Europe and Asia.

___

Toyota partners in making wind-power hydrogen for fuel cells

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. is responding to the main criticism of fuel cell cars — that making the hydrogen for the fuel is not clean — with plans to help make the hydrogen using wind power.

Fuel cells are zero-emission, running on the power created when hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to make water. But to have a totally clean supply chain, the hydrogen must also be cleanly made. Right now, most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.

In a project announced Monday, hydrogen from the wind-power plant will be compressed and used to power forklifts at four sites.

___

First-ever dissolving heart stent gets FDA review

WASHINGTON (AP) — A disappearing medical implant will get a closer look from the Food and Drug Administration this week.

The FDA meets on Tuesday to review Abbott Laboratories' first-of-a-kind heart stent that dissolves into the body after helping to clear fat-clogged arteries.

Abbott has asked the agency to approve its Absorb stent as an alternative to permanent, metal implants that have long been used to treat narrowing arteries that can lead to heart attack and death. But regulators have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the experimental device.

___

Fresh Market to be bought by Apollo for more than $1.3B

NEW YORK (AP) — The Fresh Market, a grocery store chain, has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Apollo for more than $1.3 billion.

The deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter, comes after Fresh Market said in October that it was seeking to possibly sell itself.

Apollo said Monday that it is paying $28.50 for each share of Fresh Market, a 24 percent premium of the stock's closing price of $22.98 on Friday.

___

Ex-worker says VW destroyed documents, obstructed justice

DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen deleted documents and obstructed justice after the U.S. Environmental Protection accused the company of cheating on emissions tests, a former employee alleged in a lawsuit.

Daniel Donovan says in a whistleblower case that he was wrongfully fired Dec. 6, 2015 after refusing to participate in the deletions and reporting them to a supervisor. The lawsuit says that the evidence deletion continued for three days after the Sept. 18 allegations from the EPA and despite a hold order from the Justice Department.

VW said Monday that Donovan's departure from the company was not related to the diesel emissions issue and that his claim of wrongful termination is without merit.

___

Eurozone industrial output rises at fastest tick since 2009

LONDON (AP) — Industrial output in the 19-country eurozone grew at its fastest tick in more than six years in January, official figures showed Monday — a welcome development but one many economists think could easily be reversed in coming months in light of the slowdown in the global economy.

The European Union's statistical agency said industrial output, which includes everything from energy extraction to the production of aircraft, rose by 2.1 percent in January. The increase was more than anticipated — the consensus in the markets was for a more modest 1.6 percent gain.

___

Police: McClendon hit support at 78 mph, didn't try to turn

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Chesapeake Energy founder Aubrey McClendon had the gas pedal floored in his SUV until just before it slammed into a bridge support at 78 mph, and it doesn't seem he tried to avoid the deadly crash, authorities said Monday.

McClendon tapped his brakes before impact, but not enough to slow his vehicle significantly, police Chief Bill Citty said at a news conference. There was no evidence that McClendon tried to veer away before impact.

McClendon died March 2, a day after a federal grand jury indicted him on a bid-rigging charge.

___

Kellogg: Investigation under way after graphic video

NEW YORK (AP) — A criminal investigation is under way after a video surfaced online showing a man urinating on a Kellogg factory assembly line, the company said.

Kellogg says it learned of the video Friday and immediately alerted law enforcement authorities and regulators. An investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigation, the company said.

The FDA said in a statement it is aware of the video. It said it does not confirm or deny investigations, but that "we can assure consumers that we take seriously our mission to protect the public health."

___

The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 15.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,229.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.55 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,019.64. The Nasdaq composite index added 1.81 points to 4,750.28.

U.S. benchmark crude fell $1.32, or 3.4 percent, to close at $37.18 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the global benchmark, lost 86 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $39.53 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.42 a gallon and heating oil lost 2 cents to $1.20 a gallon. Natural gas fell less than a penny to close at $1.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.