AP News

Business Highlights


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Sandy unlikely to damage US economy, analysts say

WASHINGTON (AP) — Airlines canceled thousands of flights and stranded travelers. Insurers braced for damages of up to $5 billion. Retailers expected shrunken sales.

Hurricane Sandy is causing disruptions for companies, travelers and consumers. But for the overall economy, damage from the storm will likely be limited. And any economic growth lost to the storm in the short run will likely be restored once reconstruction begins, analysts say.

Preliminary estimates are that damage will range between $10 billion and $20 billion. That could top last year's Hurricane Irene, which cost $15.8 billion.

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Storm will keep financial markets closed Tuesday

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock trading will be closed Tuesday in the U.S. for a second consecutive day as Hurricane Sandy torments the Northeast. Bond trading will also be closed.

The last time the New York Stock Exchange was closed for weather was in 1985 because of Hurricane Gloria, and it will be the first time since 1888 that the exchange will have been closed for two consecutive days because of weather. The cause then was a blizzard that left drifts as high as 40 feet in the streets of New York City.

The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq said they intend to reopen on Wednesday and would keep investors updated.

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Storm leads companies to postpone earnings reports

NEW YORK (AP) — A number of major U.S. companies postponed quarterly earnings reports scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, as Hurricane Sandy barreled into the East Coast and caused the first unplanned shutdown of financial markets since 2001.

Pfizer Inc., Thomson Reuters Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Tesla Motors Inc., Spirit Airlines Inc. and NRG Energy Inc. are among those holding financial reports until later this week.

Pfizer, Avon Products Inc., and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which were due to report Tuesday, will announce results Thursday. Thomson Reuters, also originally scheduled for Tuesday, will report Friday. NRG and McGraw-Hill Cos. will also report on Friday instead of Wednesday.

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Refineries scale back as storm moves in; oil falls

The biggest refineries in the Northeast shut down or throttled back on Monday in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and oil prices fell sharply as it appeared the massive storm will reduce demand.

Phillips 66 shut down its Linden, N.J., refinery, the second-biggest in the Northeast at 285,000 barrels per day. The biggest refinery in the area, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, was nearly shut. Most other big refineries in the Northeast were running at reduced capacity.

Sandy is powerful enough to down trees and powerlines and cause widespread flooding. Businesses could also be shut for days. If so, demand for gasoline and other oil products would drop sharply.

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AP survey: Economic ills may defy next president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election will likely struggle to manage the biggest economic threats he'll face.

That's the cautionary message that emerges from the latest Associated Press Economy Survey.

Europe's recession will persist deep into the next presidential term, according to a majority of the 31 economists who responded to the survey. A weaker European economy would shrink demand for U.S. exports and cost U.S. jobs. Yet there's little the next president can do about it.

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Microsoft: Windows Phone to catch up in apps

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is going all out to position the new version of its Windows Phone software as an alternative with broad support from smartphone makers, cellphone carriers and app developers as it heads into the holiday season.

Windows Phone 8 is the successor to Windows Phone 7, which launched two years ago. It has had little traction in the competition against the iPhone and smartphones running Google's Android.

The new software will run on more powerful phones, and Microsoft says it will catch up in terms of providing third-party applications, or apps, for the system. New apps include radio service Pandora.

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US consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans increased their spending in September at twice the rate that their income grew, a sign of confidence in the economy. Still, consumers made up the difference by saving less for a third straight month, a troubling trend.

The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending increased 0.8 percent in September from August. That followed a 0.5 percent gain in August and was the best showing since February.

Personal income rose 0.4 percent, an improvement from a slight 0.1 percent gain in August and the best gain since March. However, after adjusting for inflation and taxes, income was flat in September. That followed a 0.3 percent decline in August.

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Greece considered more risky to invest than Syria

LONDON (AP) — The world's markets may believe that the worst of the financial crisis in Europe is over after three turbulent years, but those people who control the purse strings of the world's businesses are not breathing any easier.

An annual survey of finance directors from global business consultancy BDO finds that the crisis over too much government debt in Europe remains one of their key concerns — so much so that Greece is considered a riskier place to invest and set up business in than war-torn Syria.

Only Iran and Iraq are considered more risky than Greece, which also struggles to convince its international creditors that it deserves bailout loans to avoid bankruptcy and a possible euro exit.

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Toyota on top in latest Consumer Reports survey

DETROIT (AP) — And the winner is ... Japan.

Japanese brands took the top seven spots in Consumer Reports' annual reliability rankings, pushing aside their U.S. and European rivals. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Scion, Lexus and Toyota brands took the top three spots and the Toyota Prius C, a subcompact hybrid, got the best overall score. Mazda, Subaru, Honda and Acura were close behind.

The rankings, released Monday, predict the reliability of 2013 model-year vehicles based on surveys of Consumer Reports' readers. This year, 800,000 people submitted information on 1.2 million vehicles from the 2010 to 2012 model years. The rankings are critical for auto companies, since Americans frequently cite Consumer Reports as a main source of car-buying advice.

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Toyota headed to record global sales

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is shrugging off a sales plunge in China set off by a territorial dispute and says it is headed to a record year on the back of strong growth in the rest of Asia and the U.S.

Toyota Motor Corp. Executive Vice President Yukitoshi Funo acknowledged Monday that achieving the company's target of 9.76 million vehicle sales this year will be harder because of the problems in China. Violent protests and a call to boycott Japanese goods erupted after Tokyo nationalized tiny islands that are controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

Toyota's sales in China the last couple of months have fallen to about half of what they were a year earlier. Initially, Toyota had expected to sell 1 million vehicles in China this year. Achieving that is now unlikely.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

U.S. stock markets were closed Monday due to Hurricane Sandy.

Crude oil prices fell $1, or 1.1 percent, to $85.32 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline futures rose just 1 cent to $2.65. Natural gas added 8 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $3.48 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $3.09 per gallon.


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