Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Apr 13, 2015 6:08 PM

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What's in a hotel name? Guests try to decipher the mystery

NEW YORK (AP) — Today's traveler faces a bewildering choice of hotel brands with similar-sounding and confusing names.

Vacationers once relied on big-name hotel brands to signal the kind of experience they could expect. People knew what Holiday Inn, Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott meant. Familiarity bred a sense of comfort.

No longer.

The world's 10 largest hotel chains now offer a combined 113 brands at various price points, 31 of which didn't exist a decade ago. And there's no sign of this proliferation slowing down.

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Survey: Nearly 9 in 10 US adults now have health insurance

WASHINGTON (AP) — Underlining a change across the nation, nearly 9 out of 10 adults now say they have health insurance, according to an extensive survey released Monday.

As recently as 2013, slightly more than 8 out of 10 had coverage.

Whether the new number from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index turns out to be a high-water mark for President Barack Obama's health care law, or a milestone on the path toward his goal of getting virtually all U.S. residents covered, remains to be seen.

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Airline passengers have more to complain about, report finds

DALLAS (AP) — Think flying is getting worse? A pair of university researchers who track the airline business say it's a fact.

More flights are late, more bags are getting lost, and customers are lodging more complaints about U.S. airlines, government data shows.

For the third straight year, Virgin America led the rankings. The niche airline with a limited route network was followed by Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

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Corporate deals appetite hits 5-year high

LONDON (AP) — The current wave of corporate takeovers and mergers is set to grow, a global survey found Monday, thanks to a strong dollar and low oil prices.

According to a report from consulting firm EY, 56 percent of companies say they intend to make acquisitions in the coming year, up from 40 percent in October.

That's the first time since 2010 that more than half of executives say they plan to make an acquisition in the next 12 months.

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Veggies take center plate as healthy fast food chains expand

MIAMI (AP) — They want it fresh. They want it cheap. They want it fast. And most importantly, they don't want it to taste like it's good for them.

That's a tall order for the new crop of healthy fast-casual restaurant chains, a segment that has struggled in the past but now is flourishing thanks to celebrity chef backings and the popular farm-to-table trend.

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US budget deficit expanded slightly in fiscal first half

WASHINGTON (AP) — The deficit through the first half of the budget year ran slightly above last year's pace, with the March imbalance up $16 billion over a year ago.

The Treasury Department said Monday that the March deficit came to $52.9 billion compared to a deficit of $36.9 billion in March 2014.

Through the first six months of the budget year, the deficit totaled $439.5 billion, 6.3 percent higher than last year's six-month deficit of $413.3 billion.

The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a full-year deficit of $486 billion, roughly on par with 2014's deficit of $483.4 billion.

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Egg executives sentenced to 3 months for salmonella outbreak

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Two former egg industry executives were sentenced to three months in jail Monday for their roles in a major 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands.

Austin "Jack" DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, faced up to a year in jail on charges of shipping adulterated food. They will remain free while appealing their three-month sentence.

Prosecutors said the sentence sends a strong message about the importance of following food safety rules because only a handful of similar cases have resulted in jail time.

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FDA warns of liver injury from muscle-building supplement

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to avoid dietary supplements sold by a Las Vegas company because they may contain anabolic steroids that can cause liver damage.

The agency said it is investigating Tri-Methyl Xtreme supplements after three reported injuries from users in California, New Jersey and Utah.

Extreme Products Group, of Las Vegas, distributes the capsules as a muscle-building supplement, and claims that they contain anabolic steroids.

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New rules proposed as 5-year anniversary of oil spill nears

WASHINGTON (AP) — A week shy of the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration proposed new regulations Monday aimed at strengthening oversight of offshore oil drilling equipment and ensuring that out-of-control wells can be sealed in an emergency.

The explosion of the Deepwater rig on April 20, 2010, killed 11 people and dumped as many as 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal safety investigators blamed a faulty blowout preventer for the spill and called for stronger regulations of the equipment that prevents oil and gas from rushing to the surface and triggering a spill.

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New York lawmakers mull warning labels on sugary beverages

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Public health advocates urged New York state lawmakers Monday to require labels on sugary drinks to warn consumers about the dangers of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

The proposed mandate, now pending in the state Assembly, comes as states across the country grapple with the costs — human and financial — of obesity and other diseases related to the American diet.

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Q&A: Should the Education Department discharge loans?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Students from the troubled Corinthian Colleges are getting support from state attorneys general and U.S. senators in their quest to have their federal student loans forgiven.

The question is what comes next.

Discharging the debt of all former Corinthian students could cost the federal government billions. And any action to help them potentially opens the door for other former for-profit students — or other unhappy borrowers — to seek similar relief.

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Target names Dament new head of food business

Target Corp. has named a 20-year grocery and consumer product industry veteran to help revamp the retail chain's food business.

The Minneapolis-based retailer said Monday that it has hired Anne Dament to the role of senior vice president, merchandising with food and essentials, a position that had been vacant since late last year.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 80.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 17,977.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 9.63 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,092.43. The Nasdaq lost 7.73 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,988.25.

U.S. oil rose 27 cents to $51.91 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for many oils imported by U.S. refineries, gained 6 cents to $57.93 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell less than a cent to $1.805 a gallon. Heating oil gained 1.7 cents to $1.783 a gallon. Natural gas was unchanged at $2.511 per 1,000 cubic feet.