Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2015 6:00 PM

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Greece strikes deal with creditors, avoids chaotic euro exit

BRUSSELS (AP) — After grueling, often angry negotiations that tested the limits of European unity, Greece struck a preliminary rescue deal with its creditors Monday that should avert an imminent financial catastrophe but also guarantees years more hardship and sacrifice for its people.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras flew home to sell the bailout plan to skeptical lawmakers and political allies, some of whom accused him of selling Greece out.

Panos Kammenos, leader of the junior partner in Tsipras' coalition government, denounced the deal as a German-led "coup."

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Euro currency emerges intact — for now — from Greek crisis

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Europe's monetary union appears saved. For now.

Although relief prevailed after Monday's Greek bailout announcement, key questions remain about whether the euro currency will remain sustainable in the long-term — and even whether the European Union itself remains a viable project.

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Comcast launching streaming video service

NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast, the country's largest cable company, is offering its own online video alternative as people spend fewer hours watching live TV and more time using tablets and phones for entertainment.

The new service, called Stream, will be available to Comcast Internet customers and cost $15 a month. It will include only broadcast networks like FOX and NBC in addition to HBO, but no cable channels like AMC or TNT.

Anyone can watch broadcast networks for free on a TV with an antenna, which costs about $20 and up. And HBO already sells a stand-alone streaming service for $15 a month.

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China accuses trading firms of manipulating stocks

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities accused securities firms of manipulating stock prices during China's market plunge and launched a crackdown Monday against unlicensed companies that financed speculative trading.

The moves appeared to be aimed at deflecting blame from the ruling Communist Party for trillions of dollars in investor losses as China's market benchmark plummeted 30 percent over the past month.

They came as drastic official efforts over the past two weeks including a ban on sales by executives and big shareholders appeared to at least temporarily stop the decline that wiped out $3.8 trillion in investor wealth.

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US government records $51.8 billion budget surplus in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government ran a budget surplus in June, leaving the budget deficit this year running under last year's level.

The Treasury Department says the surplus in June totaled $51.8 billion, compared to a surplus of $70.5 billion a year ago. However, the larger 2014 monthly surplus was heavily influenced by a timing quirk that had moved June benefit payments into May last year because June 1 fell on a Saturday.

For the current budget year, the government is running a deficit of $313.4 billion, a 14.3 percent reduction from the imbalance over the first nine months of the previous budget year.

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Regulators: No single reason for bond market 'flash crash'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department and other government agencies said Monday they are unable to pinpoint a single reason for a period of extreme volatility that hit the Treasury securities market on Oct. 15 last year.

Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the other agencies issued a joint report saying that a variety of factors, including record trading volumes, may have contributed to the volatility, which was dubbed the "flash crash" in the bond market.

Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds gyrated wildly for a brief period during the day.

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Marathon Petroleum partnership to buy MarkWest for $14.69B

NEW YORK (AP) — A partnership run by Marathon Petroleum will spend $14.69 billion to buy MarkWest Energy Partners, a company that splits natural gas into other fuels.

The combined company will have a market capitalization of $21 billion and tie up Marathon's huge pipeline network with the refiner.

The cash-and-stock deal values MarkWest units at $78.64 each. The companies said the purchase includes $4.2 billion in debt held by MarkWest. The companies value the deal at $20 billion and expect it to be completed during the fourth quarter.

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Natural gas surpasses coal as biggest US electricity source

Natural gas overtook coal as the top source of U.S. electric power generation for the first time ever earlier this spring, a milestone that has been in the making for years as the price of gas slides and new regulations make coal more risky for power generators.

About 31 percent of electric power generation in April came from natural gas, and 30 percent from coal, according to a recently released report from the research company SNL Energy, which used data from the U.S. Energy Department. Nuclear power came in third at 20 percent.

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Michigan ends prison food contract year after company fined

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan has terminated a three-year, $145 million contract with Aramark Correctional Services a year after the company hired to feed state prisoners came under scrutiny for unapproved menu substitutions, worker misconduct and other issues, state officials announced Monday.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration said the state and company mutually agreed to end their relationship 14 ½ months early after being unable to resolve Aramark-initiated talks about contract revisions related to billing and menus.

Michigan fined Aramark $200,000 last year for unauthorized food changes, inadequate staffing and employee misconduct such as fraternizing with inmates and drug smuggling.

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Justice Dept.: Food companies risk prosecution for outbreaks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Following a deadly listeria outbreak in ice cream, the Justice Department is warning food companies that they could face criminal and civil penalties if they poison their customers.

After years of relative inactivity, the administration has stepped up criminal enforcement on safety cases.

In the most high-profile case, a federal court in Georgia last year found an executive for the Peanut Corporation of America guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, wire fraud and other crimes after his company shipped out salmonella-tainted peanuts that sickened more than 700 and killed nine in 2008 and 2009.

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Nintendo's Iwata who led through successes, woes dies at 55

TOKYO (AP) — Satoru Iwata, who led Japanese video game company Nintendo Co. through years of growth with its Pokemon and Super Mario franchises, has died after a lengthy illness, drawing a flood of emotional tributes from game fans and industry rivals, the company said Monday. He was 55.

It said Iwata died Saturday of a bile duct tumor.

There was a torrent of sorrow online for Iwata as a person dedicated to entertaining others.

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Wal-Mart opens counter offensive against Amazon this week

NEW YORK (AP) — The online price fight as well as the bickering is heating up between Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, and it's not even the holiday shopping season.

About a week after online king Amazon.com announced a sales bonanza for Prime members set for Wednesday that it touts as bigger than Black Friday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. made a counter attack.

It has lowered the threshold for free shipping for online purchases to $35 from $50 for at least 30 days and on Wednesday, it will offer discounts on thousands of items online.

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Union, General Motors confident they can reach contract deal

DETROIT (AP) — It was all smiles and optimism Monday as the United Auto Workers union opened contract talks in an official handshake ceremony with General Motors.

But the glad-handing may not last long with both sides a long way apart on a number of financial issues.

GM and Ford want to cut labor costs that are $8 to $9 per hour higher than U.S. plants owned by Honda and Toyota, while Fiat Chrysler wants to keep its costs stable.

The union also wants pay raises for longtime workers, an end to lower pay for entry-level workers and new product guarantees what would create jobs at U.S. factories.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 217.27, or 1.2 percent, to 17,977.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 22.98, or 1.1 percent, to 2,099.60. The Nasdaq gained 73.82, or 1.5 percent, to 5,071.51.

Benchmark U.S. oil fell 54 cents to close at $52.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 88 cents at $57.85 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 7.7 cents to close at $1.940 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2.1 cents to close at $1.719 a gallon. Natural gas rose 9.4 cents to close at $2.864 per 1,000 cubic feet.