Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2015 6:30 PM

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Streak of solid hiring bolsters confidence about 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States capped its best year for hiring in 15 years with a healthy gain in December, and the unemployment rate hit a six-year low.

The numbers support expectations that the United States will strengthen further this year even as overseas economies stumble.

Employers added 252,000 jobs last month and 50,000 more in October and November combined than the government had previously estimated, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent from 5.8 percent in November. The rate is now at its lowest point since 2008.

Still, wage growth remains weak. Average hourly pay slipped 5 cents in December.

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Sony Pictures CEO had 'no playbook' for mega-hack on studio

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The hackers "burned down the house," but employees kept Sony Pictures from losing even a day on its film and television productions, the studio's CEO, Michael Lynton, told The Associated Press.

In a wide-ranging interview, Lynton describes the isolation and uncertainty the attack created and the unique position the company found itself in, in a case that's undoubtedly being closely watched in boardrooms around the world.

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AP Sources: US did not 'hack back' against North Korea

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government was not responsible for crippling North Korea's Internet infrastructure after President Barack Obama blamed the country for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., two senior U.S. officials told The Associated Press.

The Obama administration has steadfastly blamed North Korea for hacking Sony but has been deliberately coy about whether it retaliated and caused North Korea's outage, which affected all the nation's Internet connections starting the weekend of Dec. 20.

North Korea has denied it hacked Sony but publicly blamed the U.S. government for causing its Internet outages.

Congress announced Friday it will examine North Korea's cyberthreats starting next week.

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From quirky to revolutionary, the CES show has them all

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Sure, the International CES show was chock full of connected cars, smart home sensors, music gear and computer gadgets, as you'd expect.

There were even drones buzzing the 160,000-plus people that tromped across the 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space along the Las Vegas Strip.

Of the tons of products on display, there were some that just inspired, brought a chuckle, or made you just say, hmmm.

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Activist investor intensifies fight over DuPont's future

NEW YORK (AP) — A fight for control of DuPont Co. is intensifying after the hedge fund led by activist investor Nelson Peltz announced plans to nominate its own slate of four directors to the industry titan's board.

Trian Fund Management LP, which holds about a 2.7 percent stake in DuPont, has been hammering away at the more than 200-year-old, $67.5 billion chemical company for almost two years now, pushing to split it into two.

Trian has called for the agriculture, nutrition and health and industrial biosciences units to be combined into a single growth company, separate from the more cyclical businesses of performance materials, safety and protection, and electronics and communication. It also wants the performance chemicals unit separated.

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US House overwhelmingly approves bill for oil pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a bill Friday authorizing a major oil pipeline, despite a renewed pledge by the White House to veto the legislation after a state court removed a major obstacle.

The Keystone XL pipeline has been one of the biggest areas of conflict between President Barack Obama and Congress.

The pipeline would move tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

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30 years later, 'Back To The Future' car in legal battle

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — As "Back To The Future" celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, there's a legal tussle over the futuristic car that provided the guts for the flying time machine used by Michael J. Fox in the classic 1985 film.

Maverick automaker John DeLorean's eponymous creation co-starred in the 1985 movie.

Now, DeLorean's widow, Sally, claims in a federal lawsuit that Texas-based DeLorean Motor Co. has been illegally using the DeLorean name to sell hats, pens, notebooks, key chains and other items, and has illegally licensed the name and images to other companies including Nike, Mattel, Urban Outfitters and Apple.

The company has never been formally affiliated with the one DeLorean started.

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Asia's richest tycoon announces business empire overhaul

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, who has been Asia's richest person for nearly two decades, announced Friday a reorganization of his sprawling ports-to-mobile phone conglomerate into two new listed companies.

Li and members of his family control Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong and its affiliate Hutchison Whampoa.

Through a series of stock transactions, the conglomerate will be rebirthed as a company overseeing all of its real estate assets and a second company for non-property businesses.

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Federal Reserve paid government record $98.7 billion in 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve announced Friday that it paid the federal government a record $98.7 billion in 2014.

The payment reflects the central bank's earnings from holdings of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities purchased to keep long-term interest rates low to boost the economy.

The 2014 payment is up 24 percent from a 2013 payment of $79.6 billion and is higher than the previous record of $88.4 billion paid in 2012.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 170.50 points, or 1 percent, to 17,737.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 17.33 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,044.81. The Nasdaq composite lost 32.12 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,704.07.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 43 cents to close at $48.36 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 85 cents to close at $50.11 in London, a 5 1/2-year low.

Wholesale gasoline fell 1.8 cents to close at $1.323 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.8 cent to close at $1.703 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.9 cents to close at $2.946 per 1,000 cubic feet.