Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2017 6:15 PM

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New prescription: Doctor offices that look like Apple stores

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After a relative suffered a heart attack a few years ago, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Adrian Aoun got an unsettling look at a health-care system that he diagnosed as an inefficient and outdated mess.

Now he believes he has a remedy. It's called Forward, a health-management service that charges a $149 per month — roughly $1,800 a year — to tend to all of its patients' primary-care needs. And not just with attentive doctoring, either; Forward plans to deploy body scanners, sensors, giant touch-screen monitors, infrared devices and other high-tech gizmos that could make a doctor's appointment feel more like a trip to an Apple store.

Forward will still refer patients to outside specialists when its primary-care doctors can't deal with certain health problems; same goes for hospital admissions. And there are bound to be health insurance headaches that Forward isn't attempting to address.

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Tobacco giant to emerge from $49 billion deal

LONDON (AP) — British American Tobacco will take over Reynolds American Inc. to create the world's largest publicly traded tobacco company that would seek to capitalize on growing demand for electronic cigarettes in the U.S. and traditional ones in developing countries.

BAT, which has a greater global footprint and already sells Dunhill, Rothmans and Lucky Strike cigarettes, is interested in Reynolds' greater market share in the U.S., where use of e-cigarettes is growing fastest.

On the other hand, they would be able to market Reynolds' brands like Newport, Camel and Pall Mall across a range of developing economies, where anti-smoking campaigns are not as strong as in the U.S. and Europe.

BAT will pay about $49 billion to buy the 57.8 percent of Reynolds' it doesn't already own.

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Markets cheer, EU wary as UK PM May signals 'clean Brexit'

LONDON (AP) — Britain's future outside the European Union became much clearer Tuesday: It's so long to the single market, goodbye to the European Court of Justice and farewell to the freedom of movement for workers.

In a long-awaited speech, Prime Minister Theresa May finally revealed the U.K's hand as it prepares to start EU exit talks. She said the U.K. wants to free itself from EU governance and stop paying millions into its coffers, but still remain friends, allies and tariff-free trading partners with the soon-to-be 27 nation bloc.

Pro-Brexit British politicians praised the speech, and the pound rallied from recent lows as May provided more details of the path ahead for the split with the EU — and vowed that Britain would remain "a great global trading nation" open to business and talent from around the world.

Others called May's vision wildly ambitious, like a divorcing couple who hope to remain best friends, share the kids and keep each other's front door keys.

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As US looks inward, China seeks a lead role on world stage

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — With the U.S. increasingly looking inward and China eager to take a lead on the global stage, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday cast his country as a champion of free trade and stability, a rebuke to the isolationist urges that helped carry Donald Trump to power.

Some of the elites listening in Davos, Switzerland, hailed a statesmanlike, even Barack Obama-like speech from Xi as the first Chinese head of state to attend the World Economic Forum — even if it depicted a Chinese commitment to open markets that falls short of reality.

The speech, rife with metaphor and allusions to Ali Baba, Chinese proverbs and even Abraham Lincoln, highlighted a high-brow effort to make a contrast with an incoming U.S. leader whose own words regularly stirred controversy at home and abroad and created new doubts about U.S. leadership in the world.

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UnitedHealth looks beyond insurance to help fuel 4Q growth

The nation's biggest health insurer made most of its money in the fourth quarter by selling things other than health insurance.

UnitedHealth Group's Optum division, which manages prescription drug plans, runs doctor practices and analyzes health care data, generated slightly more of a profit than the company's traditional business of selling insurance.

Health insurance still brought in most of UnitedHealth's revenue. But analysts who follow the company see more growth potential in Optum and its array of products focused on cutting costs and improving health care, topics more Americans are concerned with as medical costs rise faster than wages and inflation every year.

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Morgan Stanley beats profit forecasts, helped by trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Investment bank Morgan Stanley said its fourth-quarter profits jumped 83 percent from a year earlier, helped by strong results in its stock and bond trading business.

Morgan Stanley said Tuesday it earned $1.67 billion in the fourth quarter, or 81 cents per share, compared with $908 million, or 43 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The results easily beat analysts' expectations of 65 cents per share.

The Wall Street bank's trading desks had a blockbuster quarter, benefiting heavily from the rally in U.S. markets following the U.S. presidential election. Morgan Stanley's institutional securities division, which includes its investment bank and trading operations, reported a pre-tax profit of $1.3 billion compared with $672 million in the same period a year earlier.

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GM to add or keep 7,000 US jobs, make $1B factory investment

General Motors plans to invest $1 billion in U.S. factories and add thousands of new white-collar jobs, measures that have been in the works for years but were announced Tuesday after criticism from President-elect Donald Trump.

In all, the Detroit automaker said it will create or keep 7,000 jobs in the next few years, including about 2,000 at factories. Another 5,000 new positions will be created at its auto financing arm and to develop advanced technology, electric and autonomous vehicles and information technology.

Trump has demanded the auto industry build more cars in the U.S. GM said these latest actions have been in the works since well before the election, although spokesman Patrick Morrissey acknowledged it's a good time to announce new jobs in the U.S.

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Wal-Mart to add about 10,000 retail jobs in the US

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart plans to add about 10,000 retail jobs in the U.S. as it opens new stores and expands existing locations. The world's biggest retailer said Tuesday that its plans will also generate about 24,000 construction jobs.

The jobs will come from the opening of 59 new, expanded and relocated Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations as well as e-commerce services that were previously announced.

Wal-Mart is opening fewer stores this year, but still adding jobs as it offers more positions in online grocery pickup, trainers for its new academies for hourly workers and construction jobs for remodels.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 58.96 points, or 0.3 percent, to 19,826.77, cutting into the gain it had made since Donald Trump's surprise victory in November. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.75, or 0.3 percent, to 2,267.89. The Nasdaq composite fell 35.39, or 0.6 percent, to 5,538.73.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $52.48 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 39 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $55.47. Natural gas fell a fraction of a penny to $3.412 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell down 1 cent to $1.60 a gallon. Heating oil flat at $1.65 a gallon, and natural gas declined 1 cent to $3.41 per 1,000 cubic feet.