Business Highlights

AP News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2018 6:01 PM

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Amazon, Buffett and JPMorgan join forces on health care

Three of corporate America's heaviest hitters — Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase — have sent a shudder through the health care industry by announcing plans to create a company that would provide their employees with high-quality, affordable coverage. The details are still hazy, but Amazon has a reputation for transforming nearly everything it touches. Insurance company stocks slumped on the news.

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Child experts: Just say 'no' to Facebook's kids app

BOSTON (AP) — Some child development experts say a Facebook messaging app designed for kids is not the best thing for kids. A group including psychiatrists, pediatricians and educators has sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, arguing that children under 13 aren't ready to have social media accounts, navigate the complexities of online relationships or protect their own privacy. The messaging app for kids was launched in December.

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Pfizer, riding tax changes, puts up huge 4Q profit

Pfizer's fourth-quarter profit soared to $12.27 billion thanks to a huge tax benefit related to the U.S. tax system overhaul. The biggest U.S. drugmaker on Tuesday reported an $11.34 billion benefit, mainly from recalculating deferred tax liabilities. Pfizer also said it will take a charge of approximately $15 billion, payable to the Treasury over eight years, to cover taxes on profits held overseas that it plans to bring back to the U.S.

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Putin: Russia list is a hostile move driven by Trump foes

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says a new list including Russian officials and tycoons under a U.S. sanctions law is a hostile and "stupid" move spearheaded by President Donald Trump's political foes. He says Russia will refrain from retaliation for now. Putin's reluctance to criticize Trump shows he still hopes for normalizing ties with Washington. At the same time, the U.S. move could help the Russian leader in his re-election bid in March.

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Trump to call for unity in address after divisive year

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is seeking to rally a deeply divided nation in Tuesday's State of the Union address. Aides say he'll speak with optimism about the growing economy and call for new immigration, trade and infrastructure policies. White House officials say Trump will also appeal for bipartisanship, though it's unclear if his rhetoric will be matched by any real overtures to Democrats.

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Budget talks bogged down by immigration, deficit concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional efforts to forge a bipartisan budget deal are moving at a snail's pace just a week after a three-day government shutdown. There are growing worries that the whole effort could languish over Democratic demands to protect "Dreamer" immigrants and resistance among GOP conservatives worried that leaders are on a path to busting the budget. The deadlock is deflating hopes that lawmakers will reach a breakthrough before another shutdown deadline next week

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US home prices post 6.2 percent increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose a sharply in November, lifted by a shortage of homes on the market. Standard & Poor's said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index increased 6.2 percent in November from a year earlier after climbing 6.1 percent in October.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Cheap eats, $1 sodas and crispy chicken tenders helped boost a key sales figure at McDonald's. The world's largest hamburger chain said Tuesday that U.S. sales rose 4.5 percent at established locations during the fourth quarter, thanks to its two-for-$5 deal called McPick 2, its new buttermilk crispy tenders and its expanding delivery service. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company also reported better-than expected earnings and revenue for the quarter.

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US stocks drop for a second day in a row, led by health care

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are down sharply in late-afternoon trading, placing the market on course for its worst day since August and its first two-day losing streak in more than a month. Health care and technology stocks account for much of the decline. Banks, industrial companies and energy stocks are also racking up hefty losses. Bond prices are headed lower, sending yields to their highest level in nearly four years.

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The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 31.10 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,822.43. The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest decline since May, losing 362.59 points, or 1.4 percent, to 26,076.89. The Nasdaq slumped 64.02 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,402.48. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 15.29 points, or 1 percent, to 1,582.82.

Benchmark U.S. crude slid $1.06, or 1.6 percent, to settle at $64.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 44 cents, or 0.6 percent, to close at $69.02 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 4 cents to $1.90 a gallon. Heating oil gave up 3 cents to $2.07 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $3.20 per 1,000 cubic feet.