AP News

Business Highlights


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Merkel gets a hostile reception in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel got a hostile reception from many ordinary Greeks Tuesday when she flew into Athens on her first visit to the country since its debt crisis erupted three years ago.

But she praised the current Greek government for covering "much of the ground" required for recovery.

Her visit triggered protests attended by some 50,000 demonstrators in Athens. The rallies were mostly peaceful, but police briefly clashed with several dozen demonstrators and detained nearly 200 people throughout the day.

As Europe's largest contributor to the bailout fund that has rescued Greece from bankruptcy, Germany is viewed by many Greeks as the primary enforcer of the austerity measures that the Greek government enacted in exchange for emergency aid.

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Japan economy shaky as island spat hits business

TOKYO (AP) — The craggy island specks in the East China Sea aren't even an economic backwater. They have no factories, no highways, no shops, no people — only goats. But the high-pitched row between Beijing and Tokyo over their ownership is exacting a growing toll on Japan, threatening to send its recovery from last year's disasters into reverse.

Sales of Japanese cars in China are in free-fall. At the China Open last weekend, a representative of Sony Corp., which is a sponsor of the tennis tournament, was loudly booed at the title presentation for the women's final. Chinese tourists are cancelling trips to Japan in droves. And some analysts say Japan's economy will shrink in the last three months of the year.

The business and economic shockwaves come after Japan last month nationalized the tiny islands, which were already under Tokyo's control but are also claimed by Beijing. The move set off violent protests in China, and a widespread call to boycott Japanese goods. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. dealerships were burned down in one city.

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US report highlights unease about Chinese firms

BEIJING (AP) — Eager to expand in the U.S., China's biggest technology companies face an America anxious about threats to jobs and national security.

The latest blow: A U.S. report that says telecom equipment makers Huawei Technologies Inc. and ZTE Corp. are potential security threats that Americans should avoid doing business with.

The report, coming amid an American presidential race in which trade tensions with Beijing are a prominent issue, highlights conflicting U.S. sentiments toward China, an important trading partner but a potential strategic rival. U.S. companies see China as both a crucial growth market and a source of competition and industrial spying.

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Court lets stand telecom immunity in wiretap case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is leaving in place a federal law that gives telecommunications companies legal immunity for helping the government with its email and telephone eavesdropping program.

The justices said Tuesday they will not review a court ruling that upheld the 2008 law against challenges brought by privacy and civil liberties advocates on behalf of the companies' customers. The companies include AT&T, Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc.

Lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation accused the companies of violating the law and customers' privacy through collaboration with the National Security Agency on intelligence gathering.

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IMF offers bleak assessment of stalled recovery

TOKYO (AP) — Plagued by uncertainty and fresh setbacks, the world economy has weakened further and will grow more slowly over the next year, the International Monetary Fund says in its latest forecast.

Advanced economies are risking recession, the international lending organization said in a quarterly update of its World Economic Outlook, and the malaise is spreading to more dynamic emerging economies such as China.

The IMF forecasts that the world economy will expand 3.3 percent this year, down from the estimate of 3.5 percent growth it issued in July. Its forecast for growth in 2013 is 3.6 percent, down from 3.9 percent three months ago and 4.1 percent in April.

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Health changes spur test of more part-time workers

NEW YORK (AP) — The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants is putting more workers on part-time status in a test aimed at limiting costs from President Barack Obama's health care law.

Darden Restaurants Inc. declined to give details but said the test is only in four markets across the country. The move entails boosting the number of workers on part-time status, meaning they work less than 30 hours a week.

Under the new health care law, companies with 50 or more workers could be hit with fines if they do not provide basic coverage for full-time workers and their dependents. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, those penalties and requirements could significantly boost labor costs for some companies, particularly in low-wage industries such as retail and hospitality, where most jobs don't come with health benefits.

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Wal-Mart tests same-day delivery for holidays

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart is testing a same-day delivery service in select markets for customers who buy popular items online during the holiday shopping season.

The move comes as the world's largest retailer faces increasing competition from online giants like Amazon.com., which is testing same-day delivery service in 10 markets. The Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter is trying to cater to Web-savvy shoppers who are demanding more convenience.

Wal-Mart's tests started this month in northern Virginia and Philadelphia. The program rolled out to Minneapolis on Tuesday. Wal-Mart plans to test the service in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., later this month or in early November.

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Rise in California gas price slows, remains record

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The rise in California gasoline prices has slowed after recent jarring increases, but nonetheless the cost of a gallon inched up to another record high, even as officials hope their emergency action will help ease the sticker shock.

The average price for regular gas in the state on Tuesday was a bit over $4.67 a gallon, according to the AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The price was a state record and the highest in the nation.

The cost increased only a fraction of a cent overnight, however — compared to nearly 50 cents in the past week.

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Alcoa posts $143 million loss, still tops Wall Street estimates

Aluminum manufacturer Alcoa Inc. said Tuesday that it lost $143 million in the third quarter due to hefty one-time charges but the results topped Wall Street estimates.

Alcoa's loss amounted to 13 cents per share. That compares with net income of $172 million, or 15 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding $175 million in charges, Alcoa earned $32 million, or 3 cents per share.

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Yum gains from rebounding performance in China

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The owner of the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC chains says its third-quarter net income rose by 23 percent as its key China market posted stronger growth.

Yum Brands Inc. on Tuesday also raised its earnings guidance. Shares rose 4 percent in after-hours trading.

Profit came to $471 million, or $1 per share, in the three months ended Sept. 8, compared with $383 million, or 80 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 9 percent to $3.6 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 97 cents per share on revenue of $3.66 billion.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 110.12 points, or 0.8 percent, to 13,473.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 14.40 points, a hair under 1 percent, to 1,441.48. The Nasdaq composite lost 47.33 points, or 1.5 percent, to 3,065.02.

Benchmark crude rose $3.06, or 3.4 percent, to finish at $92.39 a barrel in New York. In London, Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose $2.68, or 2.4 percent, to end at $114.50.

Wholesale gasoline rose 6.6 cents, or 2.3 percent, to finish at $2.96 per gallon. Natural gas rose 6.4 cents to end at $3.47 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil added 6 cents to finish at $3.20 per gallon.


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