Samsung unveils smartwatch ahead of rival Apple
BERLIN (AP) — Samsung unveiled its highly anticipated digital wristwatch Wednesday, beating Apple to what could become this year's must-have holiday gift item.
So-called smartwatches, which can perform tasks such as displaying email and Twitter messages on a device worn around the wrist, have been around for several years but have failed so far to inspire great interest among ordinary consumers. But with smartphone behemoths Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. joining the fray — and Google pushing its Google Glass gadget — experts see a chance of wearable computers breaking into the mainstream.
That is, if consumers can get used to talking to their watch, secret agent-style.
G-20 summit leaders face a divided global economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — Something unfamiliar will be in the background as world leaders hold a summit in Russia starting Thursday: economic growth throughout the developed world.
And something will be missing: worry about a renewed financial crisis.
Leaders from 20 of the largest economies are more confident about their banking systems than at any other time since they began meeting five years ago. What's more, the economies of the United States, Europe and Japan are finally growing simultaneously.
Automakers report sales up double-digits in August
DETROIT (AP) — The major U.S. and Japanese automakers all posted double-digit U.S. sales gains last month as car buyers snapped up pickup trucks and small cars to lead the industry toward its best month in six years.
Honda reported the biggest gain with sales up almost 27 percent over August of last year. Toyota sales rose nearly 23 percent, while Nissan was up 22 percent. At General Motors, sales were up almost 15 percent for the company's best month since September of 2008. Chrysler and Ford each reported 12 percent gains.
Sales in August ran at an annual rate of 16.1 million cars and trucks, a pace not seen since November of 2007, a month before the start of the Great Recession.(backslash)
Making the hotel lobby a place to see and be seen
NEW YORK (AP) — Hotels want you to stay a while — in their lobbies.
Long treated as dead spaces that hotel guests raced through on the way to the elevator, lobbies are being transformed into places to work, surf the Web or meet friends for a drink.
Large, traditional hotels are spending billions in renovations to try to mimic the style and financial success of luxury and boutique hotels, which have always drawn free-spending crowds to their lobbies. Walls are being torn down to make lobbies feel less confined. Communal tables are popping up. Wine lists are being upgraded. And quiet nooks are being carved out that give business travelers space to work but still be near the action.
McDonald's exploring changes to Dollar Menu
NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's Corp. says a revamped version of its Dollar Menu that includes items priced as high as $5 could be launched nationally this year.
The world's biggest hamburger chain says it has been testing versions of its famous value menu that's called "Dollar Menu & More" in five markets across the country. The company noted that no official changes have yet been made to its current Dollar Menu, which was introduced more than a decade ago.
The change would come after McDonald's unsuccessful attempt last year to get customers to switch from the Dollar Menu to a pricier "Extra Value Menu," which features items costing closer to $2. But after sales flagged, the company went back to aggressively touting its Dollar Menu in TV ads.
US trade deficit widens to $39.1 billion in July
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit widened in July from a four-year low in June. American consumers bought more foreign cars and other imported goods, while U.S. companies exported fewer long-lasting manufactured goods.
The rise in imports points to resilient consumer spending, which drives 70 percent of economic activity.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the trade gap rose 13 percent to $39.1 billion. That's up from June's deficit of $34.5 billion, which was the smallest since late 2009.
Fed survey finds US economy growing moderately
WASHINGTON (AP) — Economic growth held steady across the United States from July through late August, as Americans bought more cars and homes and auto factories added workers.
A Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday showed that all 12 of the Fed's regional banking districts reported modest to moderate growth. That's roughly in line with the Fed's previous survey of those districts from late May through early July.
Attractive financing options helped boost demand for new cars and trucks in most districts, with many reporting robust sales.
Procter & Gamble to roll out cheaper version of Tide
NEW YORK (AP) — Procter & Gamble will introduce a lower-priced version of Tide in 2014, a liquid detergent called "Tide Simply Clean and Fresh," as it seeks to attract shoppers on a budget.
P&G, the world's largest consumer product maker, is known for its premium products like Tide and Bounty that cost more than competitors but are perceived by customers to be of higher quality.
But as growth in developed markets has slowed and P&G expands in emerging markets, the company has been working to become more balanced in its offerings, with more goods at both the low and high end of the price spectrum.
Campbell K-cups to make Keurig into soup machine
NEW YORK (AP) — If you ever wanted soup to come out of your coffee maker, you're in luck.
Campbell Soup Co. says it will start offering K-cup soup packs that can be made with Green Mountain's popular single-serve coffee machines. The soups include a K-cup pack of broth that is brewed over a packet of dry pasta and vegetables.
Green Mountain says its machines are designed so that the system is cleansed by the brewing process, meaning there wouldn't be a danger of the soup and coffee flavors mixing. In addition to coffee and tea, Green Mountain also offers K-cups for fruit drinks and hot cocoa.
Impoverished Chicago area to get Whole Foods store
CHICAGO (AP) — Promising to commit to the neighborhood, executives with the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods announced plans Wednesday to build a store in the heart of one of Chicago's most impoverished and crime-plagued areas.
However, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb had almost no answers for how the company — known for its organic and expensive fare — would follow through with the promise to make the store more affordable, leaving residents and experts skeptical.
Located roughly 10 miles south of downtown, Englewood is one of the city's roughest neighborhoods. It's part of a police district that saw a roughly 40 percent increase in homicides last year, boarded-up homes are increasingly common as the neighborhood has lost population, and fresh food options are limited.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 96.91 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 14,930.87 and the Nasdaq composite rose 36.43 points, or 1 percent, to 3,649.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 13.31 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,653.08.
Benchmark oil for October delivery fell $1.31, or 1.2 percent, to close at $107.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the benchmark for international crudes, dropped 77 cents to $114.91 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline was flat at $2.86 per gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $3.14 per gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $3.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.