Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 03, 2014 6:03 PM

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Surge of hiring cuts US jobless rate to 5.9 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A surge in hiring last month helped drive the nation's unemployment rate down to a six-year low of 5.9 percent — within striking distance of what economists consider a healthy level.

The encouraging numbers — contained in the last government report on unemployment before the midterm elections — pushed the Dow Jones average up 209 points to 17,010 and could give an important boost at the polls to Democrats and to incumbents in general.

U.S. employers added a robust 248,000 jobs in September and generated 69,000 more jobs in July and August than previously reported, the government said Friday. That helped bring unemployment down from 6.1 percent in August.

The jobless rate now stands at the lowest level since July 2008, in the middle of the Great Recession, and is getting close to the roughly 5.5 percent that the Federal Reserve considers consistent with a healthy economy.

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Hackers hit bank. Is your info safe anywhere?

NEW YORK (AP) — Hackers stole personal information from 76 million JPMorgan Chase customers this summer, in one of the biggest breaches of a financial company.

The bank says only non-financial data was taken — names, addresses, telephone numbers and email. But that's still a lot, and experts warn that customers need to be vigilant about identity theft in the next several months.

The theft raises again questions about the safety of personal information in the digital era, especially at places like banks, where you keep money. What risks do people face? Will this keep happening? And can bank customers reduce the threat of identity or financial theft?

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Businesses with name 'Isis' fight bad brand image

Aeran Brent is tired of visitors asking about her store's name or snapping pictures of the sign outside.

Unfortunately, that's life for a small-business owner whose shop — Isis Bridal and Formal — shares a name with ISIS, the acronym of a notorious Islamic militant group that the United States is fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Brent says she wants to rename her store, in Southern California, to avoid any confusion with the group sometimes called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"Isis" is part of more than 270 product, service or business names among active federal trademarks, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But businesses are not required to register their names, so it is difficult to say how many companies use "Isis," which is also the name of an Egyptian and pagan goddess.

For those companies, the "Isis" name can be damaging. Branding experts say an unfortunate association with a name can scar a company's reputation even if the connection is coincidental.

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Famed beach in Jamaica slowly vanishing to erosion

NEGRIL, Jamaica (AP) — Tourists from around the world are drawn to a stretch of palm-fringed shoreline known as "Seven Mile Beach," a crescent of white sand along the turquoise waters of Jamaica's western coast. But the sands are slipping away and Jamaicans fear the beach, someday, will need a new nickname.

Each morning, groundskeepers with metal rakes carefully tend Negril's resort-lined shore. Some sections, however, are barely wide enough for a decent-sized beach towel and the Jamaican National Environment and Planning Agency says sand is receding at a rate of more than a meter (yard) a year.

Shrinking coastline long has raised worry for the area's environmental and economic future. Now, the erosion is expected to worsen as a result of climate change, and a hint of panic is creeping through this laid back village, one of the top destinations in a country where a quarter of all jobs depend on tourism.

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Obama highlights economic, manufacturing gains

PRINCETON, Ind. (AP) — Boosted by the lowest jobless rate in six years, President Barack Obama on Friday heralded September's hiring rate as the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job growth in U.S. history and declared that the United States is surpassing combined job creation in other advanced economies.

The Labor Department's report Friday that employers hired 248,000 and that the jobless rate fell to 5.9 percent came as Obama was reviving his economic message ahead of the November midterms, calling attention to industrial gains that have helped restore some higher-wage jobs during the recovery from the Great Recession.

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Overseas deal rules end one combo, alter another

New government rules aimed at curbing overseas deals that cut corporate taxes appear to be working, just not entirely the way regulators intended.

Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., based in Raleigh, North Carolina, said Friday it will scrap a planned merger with the subsidiary of an Italian drugmaker due to a changed "political environment" that creates uncertainty about the deal's benefits.

But another company, Minneapolis-based medical device maker Medtronic Inc., reacted to regulations announced last month by saying it will borrow money to pay for part of its nearly $43 billion acquisition of Ireland-based competitor Covidien Plc instead of using cash from Medtronic's foreign subsidiaries. Medtronic still expects to close its deal later this year or early next year.

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Marriott fined $600,000 for jamming guests' Wi-Fi

NEW YORK (AP) — Marriott International will pay a $600,000 fine for jamming conference attendees' own Wi-Fi networks at its Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, forcing them to pay hefty prices to use the hotel's own connection.

Frequent travelers often carry personal Wi-Fi hotspots — tiny devices that can connect to the Internet via cellphone towers. For $50 a month, they can connect to the Internet on the move, often avoiding hefty fees charged by hotels, airports and conference facilities. Some people upgrade their wireless data plans to make their smartphones into hotspots.

Last year, a conference attendee at the Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee — which is managed by Marriott — found that the hotel was jamming devices in its ballrooms and complained to the Federal Communications Commission. In the complaint, the guest noted that the same thing happened previously at another Gaylord property. The block didn't affect Wi-Fi access in guest rooms.

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BP: Judge should amend 'gross negligence' ruling

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP has asked a federal judge to reconsider a ruling that could cost the oil giant around $18 billion in additional fines stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Attorneys for BP PLC say in a motion filed Thursday evening that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's Sept. 4 ruling that the company acted with "gross negligence" in the disaster was based on testimony that had been excluded from the trial.

BP says Barbier should amend the judgment or hold a new trial.

Barbier has scheduled a January trial to determine how much in Clean Water Act fines BP will face as a result of the Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill. The gross negligence finding means the fines could be about $18 billion.

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GM issues 2 more recalls for SUVs, mini cars

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors announced two more recalls Friday, pushing its total for the year to 71, affecting almost 30 million vehicles in North America.

The biggest of the new recalls covers just over 430,000 Cadillac SRX and Saab 9-4X SUVs, mainly in North America. The company says some rear suspension nuts may not have been tightened properly. That could cause the toe link adjuster to separate from the suspension, possibly causing a crash.

Another covers the Chevrolet Spark mini car because the hoods can unexpectedly fly open.

GM also confirmed Friday that it has told dealers to stop selling Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickup trucks that went on sale about two weeks ago until an air bag problem is repaired.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 208.64, or 1.2 percent, to 17,009.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 21.73 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,967.90. The Nasdaq composite gained 45.43 points, or 1 percent, to 4,475.62.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.27 to close at $89.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest level since April of 2013. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.11 to close at $92.31 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to close at $2.379 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2.2 cents to close at $2.616 a gallon. Natural gas rose 10.7 cents to close at $4.039 per 1,000 cubic feet.