Business Highlights

AP News
|
Posted: Mar 21, 2016 6:35 PM

___

Apple's new iDevices say: Small is beautiful, too

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple is now contending that small can be beautiful, too.

The giant tech company showed off downsized versions of its signature iPhone and iPad Pro tablet on Monday, hoping they'll appeal to first-time buyers and those who have shied away from the bigger-screen models Apple has sold in recent years.

Apple touted its new four-inch iPhone SE as the "most affordable" new phone the company has offered with a starting price of $400. The company also knocked $50 off the price of its Apple Watch, showed off some new bands for the wearable gadget, and announced some software enhancements for its mobile devices and the Apple TV system.

___

Starwood battle to have little impact on price of rooms

NEW YORK (AP) — Starwood said Monday it has accepted a sweetened $14.41 billion bid from Marriott, just days after a Chinese insurance company appeared to steal it away from the hotel chain with an offer valued at $14.15 billion.

The buyout would create the world's biggest hotel company and give Marriott a stable of tony properties run by Starwood, like the St. Regis New York. Until shareholders of both companies vote on April 8, there could still be a counteroffer from China's Anbang or a bid from another suitor.

Unlike the merger of airlines or office supply stores, this deal should have minimal impact on consumer choices or prices.

___

Valeant to replace CEO, adds activist investor to board

The CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals is leaving, a director has resigned, and the embattled drug company wants another director to leave too, as it works to clean up its financial statements and resolve several investigations.

Shares of the Canadian drug company, which have plummeted recently, rallied Monday after it announced the management shake-up.

Valeant said that current CEO J. Michael Pearson will stay until his replacement has been appointed. The company did not specify whether he is resigning or if he had been asked to leave.

Valeant also said it added activist investor William Ackman to its board.

___

Data providers HIS, Markit to combine to create $13B company

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. data provider IHS is combining with Europe's Markit to create a $13 billion company called IHS Markit.

The new company will be based in London, where Markit is currently based. Some operations will remain in Englewood, Colorado, where IHS is located, the companies said.

IHS Inc. shareholders will own about 57 percent of the combined company and Markit Ltd. shareholders will own about 43 percent.

___

Stocks shake off an early loss and end with slight gains

NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. stock indexes eked out modest gains on Monday, extending the market's winning streak into a fourth day.

Stocks wavered into the red at times before steadying in the late afternoon. The price of oil also veered lower at times, but ended higher.

Investors had their eye on the latest batch of company deal news and new data on housing that sent homebuilders broadly lower.

Monday's action builds on the market's five-week string of gains and suggests an improved outlook by investors since the market's rocky start to 2016.

___

US home sales slump in February; supply shortage hits market

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans retreated from home-buying in February, reversing months of prior gains as low inventories push up prices to levels that restrict sales.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes fell 7.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million.

The housing market enters the traditional spring buying season facing a quandary: There are relatively few properties listed for sale, even as steady job gains and low mortgage rates have bolstered demand from would-be buyers. The limited supplies have fueled rising prices that have, in turn, reduced affordability and limited sales levels.

___

Millionaires: Raise our taxes to address poverty, fix roads

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — More than 40 millionaires, including members of the Rockefeller and Disney families, are asking to have their taxes raised to help address poverty and rebuild failing infrastructure.

The millionaires wrote a letter to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top New York lawmakers proposing new, higher tax rates for the top 1 percent of earners in the state. The letter says additional revenue is needed to address child poverty, homelessness and aging bridges, tunnels, water pipes and roads.

The tax plan would create new, higher tax rates for those making $665,000 or more.

___

Hulk Hogan-Gawker jury awards $25M in punitive damages

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida jury awarded a total of $25 million in punitive damages Monday in the Hulk Hogan sex tape trial, hitting Gawker Media with a $15 million judgment and its owner, Nick Denton, with $10 million.

It also assessed $100,000 against A.J. Daulerio, the Gawker editor who decided to post the edited sex video and wrote the post that accompanied it.

The punitive damages come on top of a $115 million the jury imposed Friday after two weeks of trial.

Hogan sued Gawker after it posted a video of him having sex with his then-best friend's wife. Hogan said he didn't know he was being taped.

___

Duke Energy signs deal to turn pig poop into electricity

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy Corp. said Monday that it is expanding its renewable energy from livestock waste, adding poop power to investments the country's largest electric company has made in whirring wind turbines and acres of solar arrays.

The utility said it contracted with Carbon Cycle Energy, which will build and own a North Carolina plant that collects methane from pig and chicken waste, refines the gas and delivers enough for Duke Energy to generate enough electricity to power about 10,000 homes a year.

The project is one of the largest in a growing number of waste-to-fuel efforts.

___

Twitter marks 10th birthday searching for followers, profits

NEW YORK (AP) — Happy birthday, Twitter. The social media site turned 10 years old Monday, having evolved from what was originally billed as a "microblogging" site into one of the Internet's most influential means of communication.

But after a long streak of robust growth that turned it into one of the Internet's hottest companies, Twitter's expansion has slowed dramatically over the past year and a half. At the end of 2015, it had about 320 million active users, far short of social networking leader Facebook and its 1.5 billion users.

___

Elon Musk's wife files to divorce billionaire

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Billionaire Elon Musk and actress Talulah Riley are making another attempt to end their second marriage.

Riley filed to divorce Musk on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Musk filed for divorce on New Year's Eve in 2014 but withdrew the petition seven months later.

The divorce is amicable, and the pair agreed that Riley would file the petition to end their latest marriage after roughly 2½ years. According to the statement, the Musk and Riley have been living separately for the past six months and plan to remain friends.

___

The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 21.57 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,623.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,051.60. The Nasdaq composite index added 13.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,808.87.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 47 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $39.91 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, gained 34 cents to close at $41.54 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added 3 cents, or 2.2 percent, to close at $1.46 a gallon, while heating oil slipped less than a penny to close at $1.24 a gallon.