Business Highlights

AP News
|
Posted: May 12, 2015 6:05 PM

___

Verizon buys AOL for $4.4 billion in mobile video bet

NEW YORK (AP) — After selling millions of Americans their mobile phones, Verizon now wants to capture their eyeballs, too.

As its phone business slows down, the nation's largest wireless carrier is making a $4.4 billion bet that it can find growth in mobile video and advertising by buying AOL, one of the Internet's oldest brands, which has been through its own share of transformations since introducing much of America to the online world nearly a generation ago.

The acquisition is the latest effort by a wireless company to tap into some of the money shifting to streaming video and mobile devices.

___

First-time buyers face hurdles to homeownership this spring

Young people aspiring to buy their first home are already facing disappointment this year.

Rising prices are putting more homes out of reach, and pickings are slim because few properties have come onto the market this spring, when sales are supposed to take off.

Millennials are also burdened by heavy school debt and depleted savings that hurt their ability to qualify for a mortgage. Until their incomes start to rise meaningfully, many will be forced to keep hunting for a home while delaying the dream of ownership. This has weighed on overall home sales and economic growth throughout the rebound in housing the past three years.

___

Gas prices still look low for summer even after spring surge

NEW YORK (AP) — Drivers who have seen a steady rise in the price of gasoline can relax: They will almost certainly be paying far less for gas this summer than they have in at least six years.

The Energy Department said Tuesday that it expects the price of gasoline to average $2.55 between April and September, which would be the lowest since 2009. Over the course of the year, a typical U.S household could save $675 in gasoline prices compared to last year.

___

US Airways likely to stop flying this fall

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — After more than 75 years of flying, the end is near for US Airways.

American Airlines plans to shut down the venerable carrier over a 90-day stretch that could begin as soon as July, which would mean a final departure around October.

American executives designed the gradual fade-out to avoid the kind of technological glitches and massive flight delays that plagued United Airlines after it abruptly switched to Continental's computer systems in 2012.

US Airways flights will slowly disappear and be replaced by American flights in a single reservations system. It's one of the trickiest parts of merging two airlines.

___

Monkey farms in Florida under scrutiny from officials

LABELLE, Fla. (AP) — Tucked away in Florida's Hendry County, amid the scrub brush and saw palmetto grasslands just southwest of Lake Okeechobee, are three monkey breeding farms containing thousands of primates.

A fourth is in the works, and the possibility that the small, rural county will become the country's biggest supplier of research primates has some neighbors and many animal rights activists howling.

The companies say they're doing nothing wrong, that they're properly permitted agriculture facilities and they're in the area with the blessing of authorities.

___

Senate GOP readies revamp of Dodd-Frank rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee unveiled legislation Tuesday that would ease regulatory requirements on mid-size banks and give lenders the option for greater freedom from mortgage lending rules.

The legislation by Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby would be the most ambitious rewrite of rules governing the financial services sector since Democrats passed the groundbreaking Dodd-Frank law when controlling Congress in 2010.

___

US job openings fall, hiring rises in mostly positive report

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of available jobs in the U.S. fell in March, though companies filled more of their open positions in a sign they are still confident enough to hire.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that job postings dropped 2.9 percent to just under a seasonally adjusted 5 million in March. Meanwhile, total hiring ticked up 1.1 percent to 5.1 million, the most since December.

Despite the drop in job openings in March, there are still many more open positions than a year ago: That figure has increased 18.6 percent in the past 12 months.

___

US records biggest budget surplus in 7 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — A flood of tax payments pushed government receipts to an all-time high in April and left the country with the largest monthly budget surplus in seven years.

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Tuesday that the April surplus totaled $156.7 billion, up from a surplus of $106.9 billion a year earlier. It was the largest surplus since April 2008.

Government receipts totaled $471.8 billion, the largest monthly total on record.

___

US household debt levels held back by cautious consumers

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. household debt levels were mostly unchanged in the first three months of this year, held back by tight mortgage credit standards and consumer reluctance to borrow heavily.

Total household debt ticked up 0.2 percent to $11.85 trillion in the first quarter, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Tuesday. That's a nearly flat reading after two quarters of increases. Household debt, which includes mortgages, student and auto loans, and credit cards, is still 6.5 percent below its 2008 peak of $12.7 trillion.

The figures suggest that lenders' high credit standards and reluctance among consumers to run up debt continue to weigh on the economy.

___

Only 3 of 7 midsize SUVs perform well in crash tests

DETROIT (AP) — Only three of seven midsize SUVs from the 2015 model year performed well in front-end crash tests done by an insurance industry group.

The Nissan Murano and Jeep Wrangler four-door got the highest, or "good," rating in the latest round of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety small overlap crash tests. The Ford Flex got the second-best "acceptable," rating in the test, which mimics what happens when a car's front corner collides with another vehicle or object such as a utility pole.

___

Patriot Coal files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Patriot Coal Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday for the second time in three years and said it is involved in active negotiations for the sale of the company.

The company made the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It had emerged from an earlier bankruptcy case in December 2013 in Missouri.

Patriot said it will continue shipping and mining operations and it has received a commitment for $100 million in debt financing from secured debt holders that it did not identify. It did not specify potential buyers for the company.

___

Oil industry challenges rules meant to stop train explosions

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. oil industry has filed a court challenge to new rules aimed at reducing the risk of catastrophic accidents involving crude moved by rail, following a string of fiery derailments in recent years.

The American Petroleum Institute petition to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., would set aside a requirement for improvements to railroad tank cars that are known to fail during accidents.

___

Egg, turkey meat prices begin to rise as bird flu spreads

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Prices for eggs and turkey meat are rising as an outbreak of bird flu in the Midwest claims an increasing number of chickens and turkeys. Market experts say grocery stores and wholesalers are trying to stock up on eggs, but there's no need to worry about having enough turkeys for Thanksgiving.

The cost of a carton of large eggs in the Midwest has jumped nearly 17 percent to $1.39 a dozen from $1.19 since mid-April when the virus began appearing in Iowa's chicken flocks and farmers culled their flocks to contain any spread.

___

By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 36.94 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,068.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 6.21 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,099.12. The Nasdaq composite slid 17.38 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,976.19.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.50 to close at $60.75 in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, climbed $1.95 to close at $66.86 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to close at $2.039 a gallon. Heating oil rose 5 cents to close at $2 a gallon. Natural gas rose 10 cents to close at $2.90 per 1,000 cubic feet.