Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Aug 28, 2012 5:54 PM
Business Highlights

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New mileage standards would double fuel efficiency

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has finalized new fuel economy rules that will require the fleet-wide average of new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. to double over the next 13 years.

The average fuel economy must reach 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, up from 28.6 mpg at the end of last year.

The regulations will bring dramatic changes to the cars and trucks in U.S. showrooms, with the goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and fuel consumption.

To meet the standard, automakers will need to introduce new technology to improve gasoline-powered engines. And they'll need to sell more alternative fuel vehicles. Critics say the rules will add thousands to the price of new cars and make them unaffordable for many.

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US home prices show consistent 12-month gains

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices are finally starting to increase consistently.

A gauge of national home prices rose in June compared with the same month last year, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index released Tuesday. The year-over-year increase was the first since September 2010, a year when housing benefited temporarily from a federal home-buying tax credit.

The report also noted that all 20 major metro areas in the S&P/Case Shiller index posted gains in June from May. That's the second straight month in which prices rose in every city measured.

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Americans' confidence falls off in August

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are feeling worse about the economy than they have in a while — a fact that could have wide-reaching implications everywhere from Wal-Mart to the White House.

Despite improving U.S. job and housing markets, consumer confidence fell to the lowest level it's been since November 2011, according to The Conference Board, a private research group. The results are the latest swing in the index, which has been on a rollercoaster ride this year.

The index declined in January, rose in February and then posted four months of declines before registering an increase in July. August's reading indicates that the gains in the job and housing markets aren't big enough to put to rest fears about the economy. That not only threatens to put a damper on retail sales for the back-to-school and winter holiday seasons — the two biggest shopping periods of the year — but it also could affect how Americans vote in November's presidential election.

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Apple's victory means soul-searching for Samsung

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A U.S. jury's $1 billion verdict against Samsung for what rival Apple claimed was the illegal copying of its iPhone and iPad designs signals a turning point for the South Korean electronics giant known for its prowess in adapting the innovations of others and nimbly executing production.

The verdict not only jolted the world of global gadgetry but also likely sparked some soul-searching in Suwon, South Korea, where the family-run Samsung conglomerate is based.

The world's top seller of smartphones finds itself in the post-iPhone reality, where the decades-long practice of industry mimicry now can mean a bruising legal challenge.

And so Samsung finds itself in a position of having to recreate itself as an innovator, not an imitator. But the switch, experts say, will be much more challenging and time-consuming than the shortcuts Samsung used to take.

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US bank earnings rose 21 percent in 2Q, lending up

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. bank earnings rose 21 percent in the April-June quarter and lending to consumers increased, adding to evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the financial crisis.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that the banking industry earned $34.5 billion in the second quarter, up from $28.5 billion in the second quarter of 2011.

About 63 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings as they were able to set aside less for losses on loans. The number of troubled banks fell for the fifth straight quarter.

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Lexmark to jettison inkjet printers, 1,700 workers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lexmark is jettisoning its inkjet printers and laying off 1,700 workers as paper becomes increasingly passe in an age of ever-sleeker digital devices and online photo albums on Internet hangouts like Facebook.

The shake-up announced Tuesday is the latest fallout from the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers that make it easier to store and retrieve content from anywhere with an Internet connection. As a result computer printers are used less frequently, especially at home.

That's hurting printer makers, where revenue is falling at the same time profit margins are being squeezed by fierce competition.

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Draghi skips Jackson Hole as ECB shapes bond plans

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — European Central Bank head Mario Draghi called off his trip to the annual Jackson Hole conference of central bankers this week due to a heavy workload as the bank works on its eagerly awaited plan to lower borrowing costs for struggling governments.

The ECB holds a key meeting Sept. 6 where plans to intervene in bond markets will be discussed. A spokesperson for the bank said Tuesday that Draghi decided not to go to the Wyoming meeting at the end of this week "because of the heavy workload foreseen in the next few days."

Draghi announced Aug. 2 that the ECB might help indebted governments lower their borrowing costs by buying their bonds — but only if the countries first ask for help from the region's bailout fund and agree to take steps to reduce their deficits and debt levels. He left key details out and said committees of top bank officials would work on them.

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AP source: NY probes growing energy drink industry

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York officials are investigating marketing and health claims made by several energy drink makers.

A person familiar with the inquiry, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't yet been made public, says New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas this summer to the makers of 5-Hour Energy, AMP and Monster energy drinks.

Earlier this month, Monster Beverage Corp. disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that a state attorney general had sent it a subpoena. The firm didn't reveal which state it was, but the person familiar with the inquiry said it was New York.

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FTC: 'Your Baby Can Read' ads deceptive

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many babies at 9 months old are just starting to stand up. Some take their first steps. But, reading? At 9 months? Really?

The Federal Trade Commission doesn't think so.

The agency has filed a complaint against the man behind the "Your Baby Can Read" program, Robert Titzer. The FTC accuses him of false and deceptive advertising for promoting his program in ads and product packaging as a tool to teach infants as young as nine months to read.

The "Your Baby Can Read" program used a combination of videos, flash cards and pop-up books and was advertised extensively on television, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It cost about $200 and was sold nationwide at retails stores, including Walmart and Babies R Us.

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Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to buy David's Bridal

NEW YORK (AP) — Private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice says is buying David's Bridal Inc. in a deal that values the private company at about $1.05 billion.

Additional financial terms were not disclosed.

Private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners, which bought the retailer in 2006, will remain a minority partner in the company.

David's Bridal produces and sells a variety of bridal and special occasion apparel and accessories through a network of over 300 stores in North America.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 21.68 points to close at 13,102.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 1.14 points to 1,409.30, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 3.95 points to 3,077.14.

Benchmark oil rose 86 cents to $96.33 per barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 32 cents to $112.58 per barrel in London.

Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.12 per gallon. Gasoline futures fell 2.87 cents to $3.126 per gallon a day. Natural gas fell 4 cents to $2.61 per 1,000 cubic feet.