Business Highlights

AP News
Posted: Jul 20, 2012 5:35 PM
Business Highlights


Warner Bros. grapples with Colo. shooting

NEW YORK (AP) — The movie industry grappled Friday with the deadly Colorado shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," as one of the most anticipated films in years became enmeshed with a horrifying tragedy.

The shooting, which killed 12 and left nearly 60 injured in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, reverberated through Hollywood and upended carefully laid plans for the global release of "The Dark Knight Rises." Warner Bros. quickly canceled a premiere planned for Paris and canceled press interviews in France.

New York City's police commissioner said he was told the gunman had painted his hair red and called himself the Joker — Batman's nemesis — but Aurora police would not confirm that.


IPO market heats up after Facebook freeze

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors showed their appetite for freshly public technology stocks on Friday, but a decidedly old-school company — Fender Instruments — bowed out of its planned initial public offering, citing market conditions.

Analysts were quick to isolate the guitar maker as a solo act, out of tune with the broader IPO market. The rest of the bunch did well, after all. The stock of security software company Palo Alto Networks popped 27 percent in its market debut. The stock of Kayak, the travel-booking website jumped 28 percent.

So much for the "Facebook freeze." There are eight IPOs scheduled for next week. There's a security software maker from the Netherlands, a high-end steakhouse from Texas and a natural-food grocery store chain from Lakewood, Colo., among others. The diversity of companies taking the plunge, along with their sheer number during the usually slow summer season, shows that the market for initial public offerings is in the midst of a rebound after a lull that followed Facebook's mid-May debut.


DirecTV customers: Sponge Bob is back

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — DirectTV subscribers who want their MTV, Sponge Bob SquarePants or comedian Jon Stewart are getting their wish.

Viacom Inc. and the satellite TV service provider said Friday that they have settled a dispute that had cut off access to 17 Viacom channels for DirectTV subscribers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon had been inaccessible to some 20 million DirecTV customers since July 10 as the two companies haggled over how much DirecTV should pay to carry those channels.


Bank bailout fails to ease fears for Spain

BRUSSELS (AP) — Concerns about Spain's crippling financial problems flared again Friday as even news that the country had been given the final go-ahead for a bank bailout loan of up to €100 billion ($122.9 billion) failed to take the sting out of a further round of bad economic news.

Earlier Friday, finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the euro unanimously approved the terms for a bailout loan for Spain's banks, which have been struggling under the weight of toxic loans and assets from the collapse of the country's property market. Investors have been fighting shy of Spain for months, worried that the country could not keep control of its deficit during a recession while supporting its stricken financial sector.

Spain is the 17-country eurozone's fourth-biggest economy and many market-watchers fear that if it asked for a bailout, the rest of the region could not afford to foot the bill. The country and its banks were also locked in a vicious debt spiral, where the shaky banking system has been propped up by the indebted government so that the banks could buy more government debt. The loan facility agreed to on Friday was designed to break that spiral.


GE 2Q earnings drop 16 percent; reaffirms outlook

NEW YORK (AP) — General Electric's shift back to its manufacturing roots is paying off.

The conglomerate founded by light bulb inventor Thomas Edison has pumped billions of dollars into new energy-related businesses during the past few years while selling its stake in NBC, commercial real estate and other businesses. The move has softened the blow from the recession, and it expects double-digit earnings growth this year.

GE said Friday that net income fell 16 percent in the second quarter, mainly due to lingering charges from financing companies that were sold off several years ago. Its energy infrastructure business, meanwhile, reported double-digit growth in the period, and profits surged for its transportation business. The company's quarterly results topped Wall Street expectations.


Unemployment rates rose in 27 US states in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates rose in 27 U.S. states last month, the most in almost a year and a reflection of weaker hiring nationwide.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates fell in 11 states and Washington, D.C. — the fewest since August. Rates were unchanged in 12 states.

Nationwide, employers added only 80,000 jobs last month, the third straight month of weak job growth. The national unemployment rate stayed at 8.2 percent.


Heineken makes $4.1 billion bid to raise Tiger beer stake

SINGAPORE (AP) — Heineken said Friday it is offering $4.1 billion to buy out its partner in the Singapore-based maker of Tiger beer, attempting to neutralize a Thai tycoon's competing bid for influence over the brand as the Dutch brewer expands in emerging markets.

Heineken said it has made a proposal to the board of Fraser & Neave Ltd., which shares ownership of the Tiger beer brewer Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd. with Heineken, to pay 50 Singapore dollars ($40) a share for F&N's nearly 40 percent stake.

The offer is worth S$5.1 billion ($4.1 billion) and would give Heineken about an 82 percent stake in APB. If the offer is accepted, Heineken would spend a further S$2.4 billion to buy out the minority APB shareholders.


Auto sales weaken a bit in early July

DETROIT (AP) — The raft of gloomy economic news may be starting to hurt U.S. auto sales.

Industry analysts and dealers said this week that sales during the first half of July slowed a bit from the robust pace in June. But they still were expected to be better than July of 2011.

Dealers may be wondering if car buyers, who've largely ignored sobering economic headlines, are finally getting discouraged. A widely followed reading on consumer confidence has fallen for four straight months. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged this week that the economy has weakened.


Venture funding falls 12 percent in 2Q to $7 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Funding for startups fell 12 percent in the April-June period as venture capitalists poured less money into fewer deals than a year earlier. But the number of companies getting funded in the earliest stages of development reached the highest level in more than a decade — a hopeful sign for the broader economy and an indication that investors are willing to wait for returns.

A report due out Friday says that startup investments slipped to $7 billion in the second quarter, down from $8 billion in the same period a year earlier. The companies getting funded were mainly in the software, Internet, industrial, and energy sectors. There were 898 deals completed during the quarter, down 15 percent from 1,057 a year earlier.

The MoneyTree study was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data from Thomson Reuters. The study tracked four stages of venture capital funding. Depending on how far along companies are in development, they received either "seed", "early", "expansion" or "later-stage" funding.


Starbucks opening 3 new Evolution juice stores

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks Corp. already conquered the coffee market. Now it wants to mix it up with fresh juices.

The Seattle-based company on Friday will announce the opening of three more Evolution Fresh Inc. juice stores, in addition to the one it opened earlier this year. Starbucks is also expanding distribution of ready-to-drink bottles of Evolution juice in supermarkets and other stores to capitalize on the rapidly growing market for premium juices.

The move is just Starbucks' latest push to move beyond its cafes at a time when the company is facing growing competition from fast food chains that serve specialty coffees.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 120.79 points to 12,822.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 13.85 to 1,362.66. The Nasdaq composite index lost 40.60 to 2,925.30. All three indicators were down about 1 percent.

Benchmark oil fell $1.22 on Friday to end at $91.44 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of crude, was down 97 cents to finish at $106.83 in London.

In other trading, heating oil fell by 2.27 cents to finish at $2.9243 per gallon and wholesale gasoline prices added less than a penny to end the week at $2.943 per gallon. Natural gas rose by 8.2 cents to finish at $3.081 per 1,000 cubic feet.