Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jul 17, 2015 6:07 PM

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Greek bailout moves ahead after Germany gives its backing

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's proposed bailout cleared further key hurdles Friday after German lawmakers overwhelmingly gave their backing to another financial rescue and the European Union said it would release a short-term loan to ensure Athens avoids a debt default.

The developments, along with the Greek parliament's approval early Thursday of creditor-demanded austerity measures, contributed to a positive initial assessment from Europe's bailout fund. In a statement, the European Stability Mechanism said it approved a "decision to grant, in principle, stability support to Greece in the form of a loan program."

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Apartment construction drives US homebuilding surge in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders broke ground on apartment complexes last month at the fastest pace in nearly 28 years, as developers anticipate that recent jobs gains will launch a wave of renters

The Commerce Department said Friday that housing starts in June climbed 9.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million homes. All of that growth came from a 28.6 percent surge in multi-family housing that put apartment construction at its highest rate since November 1987. Starts for single-family houses slipped 0.9 percent last month.

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Death business expands into hosting weddings, other events

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Danessa Molinder entered the courtyard wearing a white dress and matching veil. Her groom waited at the other end, in front of decorative doors and lattice work that blocked the view of a nearby cemetery with 73,000 graves.

Molinder's June wedding was one of more than 50 that will be hosted this year at a $10 million events center run by the Washington Park East Cemetery Association in Indianapolis. The somewhat ironically named Community Life Center sits on cemetery land near a funeral home and also has hosted a prom, community banquets and even breakfasts with Santa.

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Hitchhiking robot embarks on coast-to-coast tour across US

BOSTON (AP) — With its thumb raised skyward and a grin on its digital face, the robotic creation of two researchers in Canada embarked on a hitchhiking journey across the U.S. on Friday.

The humanoid robot named hitchBOT has already caught rides across Canada and in Europe, relying on the kindness and curiosity of strangers. But this is its first U.S. tour, setting out from Massachusetts with dreams of San Francisco ahead.

Along the way, it hopes to see some quintessential American sites, including Times Square, Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon.

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Uber vs. de Blasio in fight over access to NYC streets

NEW YORK (AP) — A dispute is simmering between the ride-booking service Uber and Mayor Bill de Blaiso's City Hall, an increasingly pitched disagreement playing out on smartphones, over the airwaves and in the press over a fundamental question: Who controls access to the streets of the nation's largest city?

By the day, more and more Uber cars have taken to Manhattan's streets, summoned by smartphone apps to pick up passengers who enjoy their convenience and consent to pay additional surge pricing during peak hours.

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CVS Photo website credit card info possibly stolen in breach

NEW YORK (AP) — CVS' online photo service remained shut down Friday, a day after the company acknowledged that it may have been hacked and that credit card information may have been stolen from it.

The nation's second-largest drugstore chain said the site was switched off as a precaution and that it has also sealed off related mobile device apps.

Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS Health Corp. said Friday that payment information on the site is collected by an outside vendor, which it identified as Canada-based PNI Digital Media. It added that the information is kept separate from its main CVS.com website and the computer system used by its pharmacies.

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35,000 gallons of oil spills after Montana train derailment

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Three tank cars leaked an estimated 35,000 gallons of oil after a train hauling crude from North Dakota derailed in rural northeastern Montana, the latest in a series of wrecks across the U.S. and Canada, authorities said Friday.

No one was reported injured in the accident Thursday night that temporarily led to the evacuation of some homes and followed recent oil train crashes including a 2013 derailment in Quebec that exploded and killed 47 people.

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'Ludicrous Mode'? Tesla adds power to already-fast Model S

NEW YORK (AP) — Tesla Motors says it's adding a new "Ludicrous Mode" to high-performance versions of its Model S electric car.

CEO Elon Musk said Friday that the upgrade will cost $10,000 for new buyers of the Model S, whose base price is $70,000. Current Model S owners will be able to get the upgrade for $5,000 plus the cost of installation in the next six months.

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Boeing warns airlines against flying battery shipments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing, one of the world's two largest aircraft makers, warned its passenger airline customers on Friday that flying bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries can cause fires capable of destroying the planes.

The guidance sent to airlines around the globe urged that they not carry the batteries as cargo "until safer methods of packaging and transport are established and implemented," Boeing spokesman Doug Alder told The Associated Press in an email.

The rechargeable batteries are used in cellphones, laptop computers, power tools and many other electronic devices. They are also often shipped as cargo on international airline flights.

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Google shares gain a record $65B in value

NEW YORK (AP) — Google is already one of the largest companies in the world, and on Friday it made one of the largest stock market moves ever.

The Internet giant reported strong second-quarter results on Thursday, sending its stock climbing. Google's market capitalization, already around $403 billion, rose some $65 billion to finish at $468.3 billion, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Google's Class A stock traded above $700 for the first time since the company conducted a stock split last spring. The combined gains include Google Inc.'s Class A and non-voting Class C shares.

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Shareholders approve Samsung deal paving way for succession

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Shareholders approved Friday a highly contested deal that strengthens the Samsung family's grip on the world's largest smartphone maker, sparking criticism that South Korea lacks sufficient protections for foreign investors and small shareholders.

Samsung construction company Samsung C&T said that 69.5 percent of shareholders who voted supported the takeover of it by another Samsung company, Cheil Industries.

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Montana man sentenced in case alleging $70M in phone charges

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a Montana man Friday to two years in prison after prosecutors said he tricked people into paying as much as $70 million in unauthorized charges that were placed on phone bills nationwide.

Steven Sann also was ordered to forfeit $500,000 during the sentencing by U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula. Prosecutors said he had transferred that amount to his personal investment accounts.

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Europe divided along former Iron Curtain over nuclear power

TEMELIN NUCLEAR PLANT, Czech Republic (AP) — A quarter-century after the collapse of communism, Central Europe faces a new divide: irreconcilable visions of nuclear power that pit nations once on the opposite sides of the Iron Curtain against one another.

Germany and Austria, stalwarts of the rich West, have long decided to go strictly nuclear free, while new EU members of the East — hungry for energy to fuel economic growth — are avidly increasingly reliance on nuclear power.

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Japan to start from scratch on Tokyo Olympic stadium plan

TOKYO (AP) — Japan scrapped the design of the Olympic stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Games because of soaring costs Friday and said it will reopen bidding for a new plan, in a stunning reversal that leaves the 2019 Rugby World Cup without a main venue.

The government has been under mounting criticism as the estimated cost of the new National Stadium rose to 252 billion yen ($2 billion), nearly twice as much as the initial estimate of 130 billion yen.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 33.80 points, or 0.2 percent, at 18,086.45. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 2.35 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 2,126.64. The Nasdaq rose 46.96 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,210.174.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell two cents to close at $50.89 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 18 cents to close at $57.10 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 3.2 cents to close at $1.929 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.2 cent to close at $1.664 a gallon. Natural gas increased 1.6 cents to close at $2.870 per 1,000 cubic feet.