Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jul 16, 2015 6:06 PM

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Amazon turns 20, bookseller became a global e-commerce powerhouse

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has come a long way from selling books out of a Seattle garage.

The company had an inauspicious start in July 1995 at the dawn of the Web as an online bookseller. It narrowly escaped the dot-com bust of 2000 to reinvent online retailing. And eventually, it morphed into the global e-commerce powerhouse it is today with $89 billion in annual revenue.

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Greek banks to reopen after cash pledge from lenders

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece on Thursday won vital pledges of support from bailout lenders needed to keep its economy from collapsing, but officials in Athens said the painful austerity measures demanded in return were likely to force an election within months.

Hours after parliament approved the tough new cuts, the government promised to reopen banks on Monday and gradually restore services — helped by higher cash support from the European Central Bank.

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EBay, PayPal outline plans for after split

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When eBay and PayPal split up on Friday, they'll face different challenges than they did as a combined company.

E-commerce company eBay first said in September 2014 it would split off its payments unit PayPal, in order to focus the two companies on growing profits individually. Investors, including activist Carl Icahn, had lobbied for the movie.

Though the split happens Friday, PayPal starts trading on the Nasdaq under the "PYPL" ticker on Monday, while San Jose, California-based eBay will keep trading under the "EBAY" symbol.

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Airbus CEO talks about emissions, innovation and more

DALLAS (AP) — These are heady times for the commercial-aircraft business at Airbus and Boeing, as airlines place huge orders for new planes.

Each is working on more fuel-efficient aircraft to satisfy airlines that want lower fuel bills and regulators who want lower emissions from aircraft.

Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders spoke last month to an aviation conference in Dallas and urged the industry to put more emphasis into breakthrough technologies that could be "disruptive" or revolutionary — more like tech companies. He touted the cockpit automation of the giant A380, assembled at the Airbus plant in Toulouse, France, and talked about building electric-powered or hybrid planes.

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Taking stock of China's crash: How US investors are affected

NEW YORK (AP) — It's tempting to think of China's stock market crash this summer as just a faraway problem. It's not.

If you have a 401(k) or IRA, odds are good that you have at least a sliver of your savings in Chinese companies. The lure of China's potential is so strong that more than half of all stock mutual funds have at least one Chinese company in their portfolio, and that includes hundreds categorized as U.S. stock funds.

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Review: Apple Music has everything, perhaps too much

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Apple's new music service is a valiant effort to catch up in the emerging business of offering unlimited music on demand for a monthly price. It does so while acknowledging the legacy of iTunes, the world's most popular store for buying individual songs to own.

But Apple Music feels like an attempt to take on every competitive app from Pandora to Spotify to YouTube and advance the idea of online radio at the same time.

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Yellen: Higher rates won't derail recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sought to reassure worried lawmakers on Thursday that when the Fed begins to raise interest rates, it will be careful not to derail the economy.

Delivering her second day of congressional testimony, Yellen responded to concerns from some Democratic senators that once the Fed does start raising rates, it could set back job market and income gains.

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Applications for US jobless aid fall to low level of 281,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week as employers remain confident enough in the economy to hold onto their staffs.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of applications for weekly unemployment aid fell 15,000 to 281,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, rose 3,250 to 282,500. Both figures remain below 300,000, a very low level historically that points to a solid job market.

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US homebuilder sentiment hits highest level since 2005

U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the market for new homes is back up to levels not seen since the height of the housing boom a decade ago.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Thursday rose this month to 60, the highest level since November 2005.

The latest reading is unchanged from May, which was revised upward one point from 59. July's reading is up from 53 a year ago. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

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Lawmakers back company responsible for decade-old Gulf leak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Capitol Hill lawmakers from Louisiana have intervened on behalf of a New Orleans company that has failed to stop a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico but lobbied for a refund of money reserved for spill containment work, according to letters obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests.

Since December, at least four members of Louisiana's congressional delegation have urged the Obama administration to take up a settlement proposal by Taylor Energy Company, the letters show. The company is down to one full-time employee and is no longer active in the offshore drilling industry, but its CEO is a prominent philanthropist and generous political donor.

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GOP bill would undermine auto, rail safety regulations

WASHINGTON (AP) — At a time of record auto recalls and high-profile train wrecks, Republicans are working on legislation to roll back safety regulation of the auto and railroad industries.

A bill approved this week on a party-line vote by a Senate committee brims with industry-sought provisions that would block, delay or roll back safety rules. The measure is to be part of a must-pass transportation bill that GOP leaders hope to put to a vote in the Senate as early as next week.

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United pays miles to hackers who spotted IT-system flaws

Two hackers have scored a million frequent-flier miles each on United Airlines for finding security holes in the airline's computer systems.

The awards were made under a security program that United started in May. Technology companies have offered so-called bug bounties, but they are unusual in the transportation industry.

United spokesman Luke Punzenberger said Thursday that two people have received the maximum award of 1 million miles each and others got smaller awards. A million miles is enough for several first-class trips to Asia or up to 20 round-trips in the U.S.

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Google's 2Q signals new era of austerity with new CFO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After years of big spending on risky projects that CEO Larry Page proudly hails as "moonshots," Google may be launching into a new orbit of financial discipline.

Investor hopes for a more austere Google are largely tied to the arrival of a new chief financial officer, Ruth Porat. She joined Google in late May, about two-thirds of the way through the Internet company's second quarter. Thursday's release of Google's report covering that period indicates that Porat already may be shaking things up.

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Spies in the hot seat after Italian surveillance firm breach

LONDON (AP) — A dramatic breach at an Italian surveillance company has laid bare the details of government cyberattacks worldwide, putting intelligence chiefs in the hot seat from Cyprus to South Korea. The massive leak has already led to one spymaster's resignation and pulled back the curtain on espionage in the iPhone age.

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Amazon says 'Prime Day' will be annual event

Amazon says its "Prime Day" sale led to a sales surge and "hundreds of thousands" of new signups for its $99 annual Prime loyalty program. The company said it plans to make the sale an annual event.

Tied to its 20th anniversary, Amazon promoted Wednesday's sale for weeks by saying there would be more deals than during the busy winter holiday shopping season. Some shoppers took to social media and elsewhere to complain about the types of sales they were seeing and their limited nature.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 70.08 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,120.25. The S&P 500 gained 16.89 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,124.29. The Nasdaq composite climbed 64.24 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,163.18.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 50 cents to close at $50.91 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 46 cents to close at $57.51 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 3.8 cents to close at $1.897 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.3 cent to close at $1.666 a gallon. Natural gas declined 6.4 cents to close at $2.854 per 1,000 cubic feet.