Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: May 02, 2016 5:31 PM

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Bitcoin's creator unmasks himself — well, maybe

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mystery creator of the digital currency bitcoin has finally stepped forward. Or has he?

Australian inventor Craig Steven Wright announced Monday that he is "Satoshi Nakamoto," the elusive, pseudonymous bitcoin founder.

In interviews with the Economist, BBC, GQ and a few bitcoin insiders, bolstered by a technical demonstration intended to prove that he and Nakamoto are one and the same, Wright tried to lay to rest one of the biggest mysteries in the tech world.

But Wright, who first emerged as a leading Nakamoto contender last December, may not have closed the case.

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Halliburton, Baker Hughes eye future after merger scuttled

DALLAS (AP) — Halliburton and Baker Hughes, whose planned merger is the latest big deal to be shot down by antitrust regulators, now must pick up the pieces and shore up their companies during a severe slump in oil and gas drilling.

The two Houston companies are key components of the U.S. energy-exploration business. So big and so important, the Justice Department decided, that letting Halliburton buy Baker Hughes would have hurt competition and driven up prices.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the companies' decision Sunday to abandon the deal was a victory for the economy and all Americans.

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Buffett praises Federal Reserve but warns of unintended consequences

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Investor Warren Buffett said the Federal Reserve and other policymakers are generally doing a good job, but it's difficult to predict all the effects of interest rates remaining low for this long.

Buffett said on CNBC Monday that no one can predict the effects of prolonged low rates because it has never happened before, but the U.S. economy has substantially recovered from the depths of the recession in 2008.

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Survey: US manufacturing grew again in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing expanded in April for the second straight month, suggesting that factories are adapting to a strong dollar and economic weakness overseas, according to a private survey.

The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its manufacturing index came in at 50.8 last month, down from March's 51.8 reading but above the 50 threshold that signals growth. The March number had snapped a five-month losing streak for manufacturers.

Export orders grew faster in April. Still, the index came in below economists' expectations, and new orders and production grew more slowly last month than they did in March. A measure of employment fell, suggesting that factories are cutting workers.

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US construction spending up 0.3 percent, led by home building

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending advanced in March to its highest level in more than eight years. Gains in home building and nonresidential construction offset a drop in government projects.

Construction spending rose 0.3 percent in March after a 1 percent gain in February, the Commerce Department said Monday. The back-to-back increases raised total spending to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.14 trillion, the highest level since October 2007.

The February increase represented an upward revision by the government from its initial estimate that spending had fallen 0.5 percent that month. But the estimate for January was revised down by the government to show a drop of 0.3 percent, from a previously reported increase of 2.1 percent.

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FDA effort aims to curb smoking in LGBT community

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration's latest anti-smoking campaign takes aim at young adults in the LGBT community, who officials say are nearly twice as likely to use tobacco as their peers.

The $35.7 million effort targets the estimated 40 percent of 2 million LGBT young adults in the U.S. who occasionally smoke. Dubbed "This Free Life," the campaign will begin running print, digital and outdoor advertising in 12 markets this week. The ads use the slogan "Freedom to be, Tobacco-Free," and are aimed at adults ages 18 to 24.

FDA officials attribute the higher smoking rate in the LGBT community to the "coming out" process, which can cause anxiety and social stigma that may drive people to use tobacco. The agency also points to research suggesting the use of tobacco by gay celebrities encourages younger people to take up smoking.

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Cheering Cubans greet first cruise ship from US in decades

HAVANA (AP) — Greeted with rum drinks and salsa dancers, the first passengers to cruise from the U.S. to Cuba in nearly 40 years streamed Monday into a crowd cheering the rebirth of commercial travel on waters that served as a stage for a half-century of Cold War hostility.

Many watching the festive arrival praised a Cuban government decision to drop a longstanding ban on Cuban-born people returning to their homeland by sea, a step that allowed 16 Cuban-Americans to make the journey from Miami.

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Puerto Rico skips bond payments, says Congress must help

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rican officials warned Monday the island's default on a $422 million bond payment is only the beginning if the U.S. Congress doesn't help resolve the situation soon.

The U.S. island territory did not make nearly $370 million of the payment that was due, the third and largest since 2015. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said a much more significant default could occur July 1 if Congress doesn't restore the government's ability to restructure debt under Chapter 9.

Garcia blamed lobbyists for hedge funds, which he blasted as "vultures," for the fact that Congress left on its recess last week with a restructuring bill stalled in committee.

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Atlantic City avoids default, makes $1.8 million bond payment

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Financially strapped Atlantic City scraped together enough money to make a $1.8 million bond payment Monday morning, narrowly avoiding becoming the first New Jersey municipality to default on its debt in 78 years.

Mayor Don Guardian likened the city's desperate state to rummaging around the sofa cushions in search of stray cash and said the payment was made at 10 a.m. That was an hour before a news conference at which the mayor came out swinging against a proposed state takeover of Atlantic City's finances.

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International Paper to buy 7 pulp mills from Weyerhaeuser

NEW YORK (AP) — International Paper said it is paying $2.2 billion to buy seven mills from Weyerhaeuser that make pulp used in diapers, tissues and other consumer products.

The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

International Paper said Monday the mills employ about 1,900 people. Georgia and Mississippi have two mills each. The others are in North Carolina, Canada and Poland.

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Ferrari names Fiat Chrysler chief Marchionne as CEO

MILAN (AP) — Sergio Marchionne took full control of super sports carmaker Ferrari NV, adding the CEO title on Monday to that of chairman as he positions the carmaker in the luxury goods space and seeks to regain Formula 1 glory.

Marchionne's replacement of CEO Amedeo Felisa came as Ferrari posted its best first-quarter earnings ever, a 19-percent increase in net profit to 78 million euros ($89.5 million). That compares with 65 million euros in the same period last year.

Marchionne engineered the luxury carmaker's spin off from mass carmaker Fiat Chrysler, after longtime chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo stepped down over differences in strategy. He also launched public offerings in New York and Milan.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 117.52 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,891.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 16.13 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,081.43 and the Nasdaq rose 42.24 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,817.59.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.14 to close at $44.78 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell $1.54 to close at $45.83 a barrel in London. In other energy trading in New York, wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to $1.56 a gallon, heating oil lost 3 cents to $1.36 a gallon and natural gas dropped 14 cents to $2.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.