Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Jun 20, 2012 5:52 PM
Business Highlights


Fed extends 'Twist' program to drive rates lower

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is trying again to jolt an economy held back by a weak job market.

To spur borrowing and spending, it's extending a program designed to lower long-term U.S. interest rates.

At the end of a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, the Fed also sharply reduced its forecast for U.S. growth and said it's prepared to act further to bolster the economy. It reiterated its plan to keep short-term interest rates at record lows until at least late 2014.


Procter & Gamble cuts 4Q profit, revenue outlook

NEW YORK (AP) — Procter & Gamble Co. on Wednesday lowered its fourth-quarter earnings and revenue forecasts, the latest company to sound warning bells about slowing global economic growth.

P&G, which makes an array of everyday goods ranging from Tide detergent to Gillette razors, said it cut the forecast because of unfavorable foreign exchange rates, continued slow growth in developed markets and a slowdown of growth in China.

Many U.S. companies have looked to emerging markets as economic growth in North America and Europe slowed. But P&G's and others' warnings show that expanding abroad is a complicated task for even the largest of companies.


Poll: Just a third favor Obama health care law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Just a third of Americans back President Barack Obama's health care overhaul on which the Supreme Court is about to pass judgment, a new poll finds. But there is overwhelming support among both supporters and opponents for Congress and the president to begin work on a new bill if the high court strikes down the two-year-old law.

The overall level of support for the law is relatively unchanged in recent months, with 47 percent opposing it. But an Associated Press-GfK poll shows that only 21 percent of independents approve of the law, a new low in AP-GfK polling.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the 2010 law in the next week or so. Most of the law's major changes aimed at extending health insurance to more than 30 million Americans who now lack coverage have yet to take effect, including the requirement that most people have health insurance or pay a penalty. The insurance mandate has been among the least popular aspects of the law. Provisions that have gone into effect include extended coverage for young adults on their parents' insurance and relief for seniors with high prescription drug costs.


Obama: Euro crisis could affect re-election

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama acknowledges that Europe's economic situation could have a spillover effect on his own re-election prospects.

As he wrapped up the Group of 20 economic summit of world leaders, Obama expressed confidence in Europe's ability to right its own financial ship. He said he was hopeful that voters would validate his own efforts come November, if he stayed focused on strengthening both the U.S. and world economies and creating more jobs at home.

Obama said he was encouraged that European leaders understood the depth of their continent's economic problems and were working in unison to address it.


Fewer US CEOs plan to hire, boost spending

WASHINGTON (AP) — A survey of chief executives shows fewer large U.S. companies plan to hire or boost spending in the next six months, reflecting a weaker U.S. economy.

The Business Roundtable says 36 percent of its CEO members plan to add workers over the next six months. That's down from 42 percent when the survey was last taken three months ago.

Only 43 percent say they plan to step up spending on machinery, computers and other large goods, down from 48 percent. Most CEOs still expect sales to increase in the next six months.


Burger King shares rise on first day back to NYSE

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Stock Exchange is once again the home of the Whopper.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. began trading as a public company Wednesday under the ticker symbol "BKW." Its shares closed up 3.5 percent at $15.01.

The world's No. 2 hamburger chain last traded as a public company between 2006 and 2010 before it was purchased and taken private by investment firm 3G Capital.

Burger King's return to the Big Board wasn't through an initial public offering, however. 3G Capital announced an unusual deal in April to sell a minority stake to Justice Holdings Ltd., a London-based entity that was specifically set up to invest in another company. 3G Capital received $1.4 billion in exchange and retains a 71 percent stake in the company.


Lexus tops auto quality study as industry improves

DETROIT (AP) — Lexus makes the best-quality cars in the U.S., and automakers overall are much better at eliminating problems that land vehicles in the repair shop, according to a new survey of car owners.

Toyota's luxury brand had the fewest problems per 100 vehicles in a survey of 2012 models by research firm J.D. Power and Associates. The brand was followed by two other luxury carmakers, Jaguar and Porsche, which tied for second place. Cadillac and Honda rounded out the top five.

Cars and trucks sold in the U.S. had the highest quality since J.D. Power started doing the study in 1987. Still, quality was hurt by widespread glitches in technology such as touch-screen controls and voice-recognition software, said David Sargent, the firm's automotive vice president.

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Struggling BlackBerry maker begins job cuts

TORONTO (AP) — Struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion said Wednesday it has started laying off employees as part of its restructuring plan aimed at saving about $1 billion this year.

RIM said in May that there would be "significant layoffs" this year. On Wednesday, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it has "reduced some positions as part of its program and may continue to do so as the company methodically works through a review of the business."

RIM declined to provide numbers, but will offer an update when it reports quarterly financial results on June 28. RIM had about 16,500 employees in early May. The company cut 2,000 jobs last July.


Starbucks to open its first Tazo tea shop

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks Corp. is planning to open its first Tazo tea shop this fall, in yet another move to expand beyond its ubiquitous coffee shops.

The Seattle-based cafe chain says the store will open near its headquarters and will include a tea bar where customers can blend their own tea mixes with the help of a store worker the company is calling a "tea partner."

The store will offer more than 80 varieties of loose-leaf tea, tea lattes and iced teas, as well as packaged chocolates, infused sugars and honeys. Pastries and other food will also be served, as in the company's coffee shops. It will not be branded with Starbucks' "green dot" logo.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 12.94 points at 12,824.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.29 points to 1,355.69. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.69 point to 2,930.45.

Benchmark U.S. crude dropped $2.23, or 2.7 percent, to end the day at $81.80 per barrel in New York. That's the lowest level since October. Brent crude, which is used to price much of the oil imported into the U.S., lost $3.07 to finish at $92.69 per barrel in London. That's Brent's lowest finish since December 2010.

In other energy futures trading, heating oil lost 4.77 cents to end at $2.5874 per gallon, while wholesale gasoline lost 5.13 cents to finish at $2.5902 per gallon. Natural gas lost 2.8 cents to end at $2.517 per 1,000 cubic feet.