Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2015 5:16 PM

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Markets back in positive territory after summer swoon

NEW YORK (AP) — Maybe you shouldn't have put your money under a mattress after all.

The stock market is back in the black for the year after a bruising late-August tumble that had investors worrying about their money in a way they hadn't in four years.

A three-week surge in stocks has now lifted the Standard & Poor's 500 index above where it was at the beginning of 2015 for the first time since the summer.

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China move shows global reliance on low rates to lift growth

BEIJING (AP) — China's sixth interest-rate cut in a year shows how hard it is to keep the world's second-biggest economy growing vigorously while attempting one of history's most audacious economic transformations.

The country's central bank on Friday announced cuts in benchmark interest rates on loans and deposits.

The moves by the People's Bank of China are the latest sign that the world's major central banks remain committed to unusually low rates to try to spur economic growth. This week, the head of the European Central Bank made clear that the ECB is weighing further steps to ease borrowing rates.

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American Airlines 3Q profit soars on cheaper jet fuel

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines plans to offer a version of the low-fare, no-frills approach to flying that is boosting profit margins at discount carriers.

Officials at American, the world's biggest airline, say they need to fight back against small but fast-growing rivals including Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines, which are known for cheap fares, lots of extra fees, and poor service.

Beginning next year American will offer tickets with "less frills" but a "really cheap price" where it competes on nonstop flights with discount carriers.

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P&G struggles to lift sales as it refocuses on core

CINCINNATI (AP) — Procter & Gamble, which is attempting to refocus on core brands and regain its standing as a top competitor, struggled to boost sales in its first quarter.

Even stripping out the effects of the strong dollar, which is weighing on all multinationals, organic sales declined 1 percent.

Quarterly revenue for the company that makes products such as Tide, Pampers and Charmin declined to $16.53 billion from $18.77 billion. That's short of the $17 billion that analyst had projected, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.

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Egg industry group CEO steps down after vegan mayo scramble

NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of the American Egg Board has stepped down earlier than planned, following the release of emails indicating she tried to stop the sale of a vegan mayonnaise at Whole Foods.

Joanne Ivy retired at the end of September. Before the release of the emails, the egg board said Ivy would retire Dec. 31.

The early departure comes as the USDA investigates the egg board regarding its actions related to Hampton Creek, a San Francisco startup that makes the eggless mayonnaise alternative Just Mayo. On Sept. 2, The Associated Press reported on emails in which Ivy told a consultant that she would "like to accept your offer to make that phone call to keep Just Mayo off Whole Foods shelves."

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J. Crew ends on-call scheduling for workers in US stores

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — J. Crew has agreed to end on-call scheduling at stores nationwide, following similar moves by several other major retailers, New York's attorney general said Friday.

In April, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office wrote to 13 retailers questioning the practice of keeping workers on call for shifts on short notice. The letter also cited possible violations of New York's requirement to pay hourly staff for at least four hours when they report for work.

"Workers deserve protections that allow them to have a reliable schedule in order to arrange for transportation to work, to accommodate child care needs and to budget their family finances," Schneiderman said.

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Caesars Palace getting $75 million update despite bankruptcy

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip is getting a $75 million upgrade for its 50th birthday despite facing a complicated bankruptcy reorganization and millions of dollars in fines.

Parent company Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced Friday that it's overhauling the hotel's original Roman Tower of rooms, last redone in 2001. The iconic Roman-themed property is the only Strip casino owned and operated by a Caesars subsidiary that is trying to shed $10 billion of its $18.4 billion in debt by restructuring.

Caesars Palace was recently fined $9.5 million by federal and state regulators for failing to take steps to prevent money laundering in the casino.

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Venezuela sues black market currency tracker for terrorism

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan authorities are filing suit in the U.S. against a website widely used in the South American country to track the plummeting black market value of the local currency.

In an unusual complaint filled with images, high-flown language and even links to journalists' personal websites, the Venezuelan Central Bank alleges that the Venezuelan immigrants in the U.S. behind the site DolarToday are committing cyberterrorism and sowing economic chaos.

Venezuela restricts access to dollars using a multi-tiered exchange rate system. But many people use a parallel market, where the value of the local currency has been plummeting.

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Twitter CEO gives up $200M in stock for company employees

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After laying off more than 300 workers, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is trying to lift the spirits of the remaining employees by giving them 6.8 million shares of the stock he owns in the online messaging service.

Dorsey is giving up the stock, currently worth more than $200 million, so Twitter can award the shares to its employees, according to documents filed Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The gesture comes a week after Dorsey laid off 8 percent of Twitter's workforce in an effort to make the company profitable for the first time in its nine-year history. The gift represents nearly one-third of the stock Dorsey owns in the San Francisco company.

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New health law premiums available online this weekend

WASHINGTON (AP) — Premiums are expected to rise in many parts of the country as a new sign-up season under President Barack Obama's health care law starts Nov. 1. But consumers have options if they shop around, and an upgraded government website will help them compare.

Consumers can see their own premiums for 2016 starting Sunday night on HealthCare.gov, officials said on Friday. The federal website will serve 38 states this time. States running their own sites may have different timetables.

Online health insurance markets are entering their third year, offering taxpayer-subsidized private coverage. That's helped cut the share of Americans who are uninsured to about 9 percent, a historical low.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 157.54 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,646.70. The S&P 500 index climbed 22.64 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,075.15. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, rose 111.81 points, or 2.3 percent, to 5,031.86.

The price of U.S. crude oil fell 78 cents to $44.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday. Brent Crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 9 cents to $47.99 a barrel in London.

In other futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline fell 0.3 cents to close at $1.304 a gallon, heating oil fell 1.1 cents to close at $1.454 a gallon and natural gas fell 10 cents to close at $2.286 per 1,000 cubic feet.