Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2015 6:02 PM

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McDonald's challenge: Make it simpler, but add choices

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's wants to simplify, simplify, simplify — but also add a bunch of choices for customers to avoid growing stale.

CEO Steve Easterbrook said Monday that he will strip away the bureaucracy at McDonald's so the company can move more nimbly to keep up with changing tastes. The overhaul comes after McDonald's saw its profit drop 15 percent last year, with sales dipping in regions around the world.

To help make the right changes more quickly, McDonald's said it's restructuring its business into four units led by lean management teams.

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Boxing match pops up on phones as TV habits change

NEW YORK (AP) — It should have been a proud moment for TV: A much-hyped sports event drawing in millions of paying viewers and showcasing the clout still held by traditional media heavyweights.

Instead, the broadcast of Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas was marred by technical snafus and got sucker punched by Internet streamers, exposing the industry's vulnerabilities.

An estimated 3 million households were expected to buy pay-per-view access to the fight at nearly $100 a pop Saturday night. But the heavy demand created problems for some cable and satellite TV subscribers who tried to order it at the last minute, delaying the start of the fight.

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Google is starting small, thinking big with 'Project Fi'

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (AP) — Google wants the wireless services that connect mobile devices to digital content to be cheaper and more reliable.

The reason has as much to do with the pursuit of profit as with trying to make smartphones more useful. More time spent using Google's dominant search engine or watching videos on its popular YouTube site translates into more opportunities for the company to show its moneymaking ads.

Enter "Project Fi," the Internet company's recently launched attempt to usher in new ways to keep smartphones online while lowering the cost for streaming video, listening to music, getting directions and searching for information.

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Buffett again defends lending standards at Clayton Homes

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — Investor Warren Buffett again defended Berkshire Hathaway's manufactured home unit Monday and praised some of his company's biggest investments.

Buffett discussed Clayton Homes' lending practices, interest rates, Berkshire's investments and other topics during an interview on CNBC Monday. Over the weekend, he answered questions in front of more than 40,000 people at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting.

Clayton's lending was questioned last month in a story by The Seattle Times and The Center for Public Integrity. The story said Clayton appeared to be using predatory lending practices, and some buyers were pressured into loans that they couldn't afford.

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US factory orders rise in March for first time in 8 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories rose in March for the first time since last July, breaking a long stretch of weakness in manufacturing.

Orders increased 2.1 percent following seven monthly declines, the Commerce Department reported Monday. And in further good news, orders in a key category that tracks business investment plans eked out a 0.1 percent rise. It was the first advance in this category since last August.

Economists are hoping that U.S. manufacturing is beginning to emerge from a long soft patch, bolstered by stronger domestic demand that will offset ongoing weakness in exports.

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Airlines bring in more money from bag, reservations fees

U.S. airlines are earning billions, and they are collecting more in fees on checked bags and reservation changes.

Whether airlines are making more or less profit than before depends on which figures you use.

The Department of Transportation said Monday that airlines collected $3.5 billion in bag fees last year, a 5 percent increase over 2013, and $3 billion in reservation-change fees, a 6 percent hike.

Fees began escalating in 2008, when airlines were losing money and facing a sharp rise in fuel prices. Today, they make up a growing share of airline revenue.

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Cisco CEO Chambers to step down, Robbins named successor

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Veteran tech executive John Chambers plans to step down after more than 20 years as CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., a major supplier of computer networking gear that makes the Internet work.

Cisco said its board has selected longtime company executive Chuck Robbins to succeed Chambers in July, bypassing some of Chambers' better-known lieutenants.

Chambers, who was one of Silicon Valley's longest-serving CEOs, will move to the role of Cisco's executive board chairman. During his tenure, the company grew from $1.2 billion in annual revenue in 1995, the year he became CEO, to $48 billion in sales last year.

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Dow Chemical to trim about 3 pct of global workforce

Dow Chemical will cut about 3 percent of its global workforce as it prepares to break off a significant part of its chlorine operations in a deal announced earlier this year with Olin Corp.

The company says the cuts will reduce its workforce by 1,500 to 1,750 positions. Dow Chemical employed about 53,000 people worldwide at the end of last year.

The Midland, Michigan, company said in March that it will receive about $2 billion in cash and cash equivalents and an estimated $2.2 billion in Olin common stock as part of the chlorine business deal.

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Supreme Court will hear appeal over energy regulation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a dispute over a regulation that offers financial incentives to factories, retailers and other large electricity users to reduce their power consumption.

The justices agreed to review a lower court ruling that struck down a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rule that requires utilities to pay energy consumers for lowering electricity use during times of peak demand.

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Comcast now has more Internet than cable customers

NEW YORK (AP) — Just before its $45 billion deal with Time Warner Cable collapsed over regulators' fears about a giant cable company's control over the Web, Comcast was racking up more Internet customers.

For the first time, the country's largest cable provider, which also owns NBCUniversal, has more Internet subscribers than cable subscribers, Comcast executive Neil Smit said during an earnings call Monday.

Broadband subscribers surpassed cable this quarter. As of the end of March, there were 22.4 million customers for each.

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SurveyMonkey CEO died of head trauma in exercise accident

MEXICO CITY (AP) — SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg died of severe head trauma in an exercise accident in the Mexican resort town of Punta Mita, a Mexican state official said Monday.

Goldberg was found lying next to a treadmill on Friday at the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita near Puerto Vallarta.

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Uber drivers beware! Car at risk in Brussels after ruling

BRUSSELS (AP) — A driver for the Uber mobile app taxi service had his car confiscated Monday after a Brussels court said the ride-sharing service does not respect taxi regulations in the Belgian capital.

Jacques Verhaegen, the lawyer for the Uber driver, said the company's drivers now "run the risk of having their car seized" in the Belgian capital.

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Greece to lobby EU, ECB for swift loan payout

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's cash-strapped government said Monday it was seeking the swift release of delayed bailout money to keep up with its debt payments, following weekend progress in negotiations with creditors.

The new left-wing government is struggling to deliver economic reforms and budget measures demanded by creditors to unlock the remaining 7.2 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in its bailout fund.

Deputy Prime Minister Giannis Dragasakis was to meet in Frankfurt on Tuesday with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, while Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was to meet in Brussels with Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, officials said.

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China factory index shows fastest deterioration in a year

HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese manufacturing suffered its sharpest contraction in a year in April, raising pressure on Beijing to roll out new stimulus to keep growth in the world's No. 2 economy from slipping below the official target, a report said Monday.

HSBC's manufacturing index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers fell to a 12-month low of 48.9 in April from 49.6 in March. The index is based on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 show contraction.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 46.34 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,070.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.20 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,114.49, within three points of its all-time high reached on April 24. The Nasdaq composite gained 11.54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,016.93.

The price of oil slipped slightly Monday as a stronger dollar made oil, which is priced in dollars around the world, less attractive to holders of foreign currency. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 22 cents to close at $58.93 a barrel in New York. Brent crude fell a penny to close at $66.45 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 1.1 cents to close at $2.034 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.3 cents to close at $1.979 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4.5 cents to close at $2.821 per 1,000 cubic feet.