Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2016 6:15 PM

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Why a stronger US dollar could hinder Trump's economic plans

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump's ambitious plans to revive exports, return jobs to the United States and increase oil drilling are running up against a home-grown threat: the surging U.S. dollar.

Since the election, the dollar has shot up 5 percent.

The gain reflects the U.S. economy's strength and investor confidence that Trump will accelerate growth. It could rise even more now that the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates. But an expensive dollar makes U.S. goods costlier overseas, and imports cheaper in the U.S. That creates pain for American manufacturers. A high dollar can also lead some U.S. multinational companies to move operations overseas where their dollars go further. And it tends to shrink oil prices.

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Yellen to college grads: Best job market in nearly a decade

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Monday that college graduates are entering the strongest job market the country has seen in nearly a decade, and their degree is more important than ever.

Yellen said that with changes in the job market such as technology and globalization, succeeding in the job market is increasingly tied to higher education. She said that annual earnings for college graduates last year were on average 70 percent higher than those with only a high school diploma. Back in 1980 that difference was only 20 percent.

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Big dividend payers lead indexes higher in quiet trading

NEW YORK (AP) — With the Christmas holiday and the end of 2016 coming into view, U.S. stocks edged higher Monday as bond yields dropped and investors who sought income moved money into phone company and real estate stocks.

Technology and industrial companies rose, while energy companies skidded and health care stocks continued to lag the rest of the market. Disney climbed after a strong opening weekend for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," its second movie in the revived "Star Wars" franchise.

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IMF board: Lagarde can remain as chief despite conviction

WASHINGTON (AP) — Christine Lagarde can remain head of the International Monetary Fund despite her conviction Monday of negligence in a case dating to her tenure as France's finance minister.

France's Court of Justice of the Republic found Lagarde guilty of one count of negligence for not seeking to block a fraudulent 2008 arbitration award to a politically connected tycoon when she was finance minister. But the court spared her jail time and a criminal record.

The IMF's executive board reaffirmed its "full confidence in the managing director's ability to continue to effectively carry out her duties" and praised her leadership.

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Feds: Fund execs lied after oil rig blast hurt investments

NEW YORK (AP) — Hedge fund executives were charged Monday in a $1 billion fraud case linked to an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed three workers and injured several others.

A founder and chief investment officer of Platinum Partners, and six other defendants were accused of lying to investors about the performance of a fund that ran into trouble when one of its largest assets, the Black Elk oil exploration company, had a rig explode in 2012 off Louisiana.

Authorities accused Platinum of falsely reporting returns while collecting more than $100 million in fees during a conspiracy that cheated investors out of $1 billion.

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GM to temporarily close 5 factories as car inventory builds

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors will temporarily close five factories next month as it tries to reduce a growing inventory of cars on dealer lots.

The factories will close anywhere from one to three weeks due to the ongoing U.S. market shift toward trucks and SUVs. Just over 10,000 workers will be idled.

The company's Detroit-Hamtramck factory and Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, each will be shut down for three weeks, while a plant in Lansing, Michigan, will be down for two weeks. Factories in Lordstown, Ohio, and Bowling Green, Kentucky, each will be idled for one week.

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NY businessman, veteran is Trump's pick for Army secretary

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump on Monday tapped another billionaire businessman for an administration job, naming Army veteran and fellow New Yorker Vincent Viola to be his secretary of the Army.

Viola grew up in Brooklyn, the first member of his family to attend college and went to West Point. He was trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. A lawyer, he started multiple businesses and bought the Florida Panthers hockey team for $250 million in 2013.

Trump praised Viola as "living proof of the American dream" and someone who has a lengthy history of engagement with national security issues.

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British Airways says will run holiday flights despite strike

LONDON (AP) — British Airways says it can run its full holiday schedule on Christmas and Boxing Day even if a planned cabin crew strike goes ahead.

Chief Executive Alex Cruz said Monday that detailed contingency plans are in place so that flights can operate as normal.

He urged the Unite union to call off the planned strike. The dispute involves pay for staff members who have joined the airline in the last six years, and negotiations continue.

Britain also faces a postal strike and a railroad strike over the holiday period.

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Lands' End goes high end, again, in its CEO hunt

NEW YORK (AP) — The casual clothing company Lands' End has named Jerome Griffith, the one-time chief executive of the high-end luggage maker Tumi, as its next CEO.

It's the second time the Dodgeville, Wisconsin, company has reached into the luxury goods sector for a chief executive who might revive sales of its flannel and rugby shirts. Federica Marchionni, who had been recruited from Dolce & Gabbana, left Land's End in September after less than two years as sales continued to slump.

Griffith will join Lands' End in March of next year.

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Largest public pension system to sell all tobacco stocks

ACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The nation's largest public pension system is giving up tobacco.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System decided Monday to sell its last $550 million worth of tobacco-related investments nearly two decades after trading away the bulk of them. In a 9-3 vote, the CalPERS investment committee disregarded the advice from its own financial advisers who recommended reversing a sell-off approved in 2000, which has cost the system more than $3 billion in lost earnings.

Most committee members say the industry faces risk from global regulations and declining rates of smoking. Others say CalPERS is obligated to maximize investment returns and can only do that with a fully diversified portfolio.

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US FDA clears ovarian cancer drug for hard-to-treat disease

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials have approved a new option for some women battling ovarian cancer: a drug that targets a genetic mutation seen in a subset of hard-to-treat tumors.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the drug, Rubraca, from Clovis Oncology Inc. for women in advanced stages of the disease who have already tried at least two chemotherapy drugs. The Clovis medication targets a mutation found in 15 to 20 percent of patients with ovarian cancer. Women with the variation, known as BRCA, face much higher risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer compared with other women.

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The Dow Jones industrial average inched up 39.65 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,883.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4.46 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,262.53. The Nasdaq composite advanced 20.28 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,457.44.

Crude oil inched up 22 cents to $52.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 29 cents to $54.92 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. Heating oil remained at $1.67 a gallon. Natural gas fell 2 cents to $3.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.