AP News

Business Highlights


___

Tall, skinny iPhone in US stores Sept. 21

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — For the first time, the iPhone is growing. After sticking for five years to the same screen size, Apple on Wednesday revealed a new phone that's taller, with a bigger screen.

The iPhone 5 will go on sale in the U.S. and eight other countries next Friday, Sept. 21.

Even though it's taller than the iPhone 4S, it's lighter, thanks to a new screen technology that makes the whole phone thinner.

The bigger screen — 4 inches measured diagonally — creates room for another row of icons on the screen and lets widescreen movies fit better. Previous iPhone models carried 3.5-inch screens.

___

AP IMPACT: Aggressive start for consumer bureau

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new federal agency charged with enforcing consumer finance laws is emerging as an ambitious sheriff, taking on companies for deceptive fees and marketing and unmoved by protests that its tactics go too far.

In the 14 months it has existed, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched dozens of enforcement probes and issued more than 100 subpoenas demanding data, testimony and marketing materials — sometimes amounting to millions of pages — from companies that include credit card lenders, for-profit colleges and mortgage servicers.

More than two dozen interviews with agency officials and industry executives offered sweeping insight into the new agency's behind-the-scenes efforts, which have taken the financial industry off guard and have been far more aggressive than previously known.

___

Common type of rail car has dangerous design flaw

CHICAGO (AP) — For two decades, one of the most commonly used type of rail tanker has been allowed to haul hazardous liquids from coast to coast even though transportation officials were aware of a dangerous design flaw that almost guarantees the car will tear open in an accident, potentially spilling cargo that could catch fire, explode or contaminate the environment.

The rail and chemical industries have committed to a safer design for new tankers but are pressing regulators not to require modifications to tens of thousands of existing cars, despite a spike in the number of accidents as more tankers are put into service to accommodate soaring demand for ethanol, the highly flammable corn-based fuel usually transported by rail.

Derailments have triggered chemical spills and massive blasts like one in July in Columbus, Ohio, that blew up with such intensity that one witness said it "looked like the sun exploded." Some communities with busy railways are beginning to regard the tankers as a serious threat to public safety.

___

Cheapest airfare might be on airlines' own website

NEW YORK (AP) — Some airlines are making travelers work harder to find a deal.

Carriers are offering more deals to passengers who book flights directly on their websites. It's an effort to steer people away from online travel agencies such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, which charge the carriers commissions of roughly $10 to $25 a ticket.

While travelers save money, they also must do without the convenience of one-stop shopping.

Frontier Airlines is the latest carrier to jump into the fight, announcing Wednesday that it will penalize passengers who don't book directly with the airline. Those fliers won't be able to get seat assignments until check-in. And they'll pay more in fees while earning half as many frequent flier miles.

___

Gas prices hit $8 in NJ, Pennsylvania in Lukoil protest

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. (AP) — More than 50 Lukoil gas stations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania jacked up prices to more than $8 a gallon Wednesday to protest what they say are unfair pricing practices by Lukoil North America that leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

Dozens of Lukoil franchise owners also gathered to protest at a station in this central New Jersey town where the posted prices were an eye-popping $8.99 a gallon.

The owners and the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association said the one-day protest was aimed at raising consumer awareness about the challenges facing Lukoil dealers and getting the company to respond to dealer grievances.

___

McDonald's new menu item: Calorie counts

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's restaurants in the U.S. will soon get a new menu addition: The number of calories in the chain's burgers and fries.

The world's biggest hamburger chain said Wednesday that it will post calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menus nationwide starting Monday. The move comes ahead of a regulation that could require major chains to post the information as early as next year.

In cities such as New York and Philadelphia where posting calorie information is already required, however, Fields notes that the information has not changed what customers choose to order.

___

Forecast points to solid holiday growth

NEW YORK (AP) — After wrapping up a decent back-to-school shopping season, merchants are expected to see healthy sales gains for the critical winter holidays, though the pace should be slightly below last year, according to one of the first forecasts issued for the holiday sales season.

Retail revenue in November and December should be up 3.3 percent during what's traditionally the biggest shopping period of the year, Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak said Wednesday.

The sales prediction from ShopperTrak would be below last year's pace of 3.7 percent and the more than 5 percent gains seen during the boom economic times. But it would be respectable given that shoppers are still grappling with high unemployment and other financial challenges

___

Facebook users get out US vote in large numbers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facebook friends played a big role in getting hundreds of thousands of Americans to vote in 2010, a new scientific study claims.

Facebook researchers and scientists at the University of California, San Diego conducted a massive online experiment in the congressional election to test and measure the political power of online peer pressure.

They found that people who got Facebook messages that their friends had voted were a bit more likely to go to the polls than those who did not get the same reminder. And from there the effect multiplied in the social network, they reported in Thursday's journal Nature.

The friend-prodding likely increased voter turnout by as much as 340,000 in the non-presidential election that voted in a new Republican congress, the scientists calculated. They said that it could potentially change the outcome of close elections.

___

YouTube blocks video inciting violence in Mid East

NEW YORK (AP) — YouTube has blocked a video attacking Islam's prophet Muhammad in Egypt and Libya, where angry protests were sparked by outrage at the video.

Ultraconservative Muslims enflamed by the video stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner. Later Tuesday evening, protesters in Libya burned down the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three members of his staff.

The 14-minute video is a trailer to an amateurish, low-budget movie titled "Innocence of Muslims," which depicts Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse. Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any manner, let alone insult the prophet.

___

US wholesale stockpiles up in July but sales fell

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesalers increased their stockpiles in July from June, but sales fell for a third straight month. Declining sales could force companies to cut inventories in coming months, a troubling sign that economic growth could weaken.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that wholesale stockpiles grew 0.7 percent in July, the biggest increase in five months.

Sales fell 0.1 percent following declines of 1.4 percent in June and 1.1 percent in May. That marked the longest stretch of weakness since seven straight monthly declines ending in January 2009, a period when the country was in recession.

___

By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 9.99 points to close at 13,333.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added an even 3 points to 1,436.56. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index climbed 9.78 points to 3,114.31.

Benchmark oil fell 16 cents Wednesday to end at $97.01 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, gained 56 cents to $115.33 per barrel in London.

Heating oil rose 2.95 cents to finish at $3.2152 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline fell 4.19 cents to finish at $3.0016 per gallon. Natural gas rose 7.1 cents end at $3.063 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Best LBO Ever
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus