AP News

Business Highlights


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Storm's cost may hit $50 billion; rebuilding to ease blow

WASHINGTON (AP) — Superstorm Sandy will end up causing about $20 billion in property damages and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.

In the long run the devastation the storm inflicted on New York City and other parts of the Northeast will barely nick the U.S. economy. That's the view of economists who say a slightly slower economy in coming weeks will likely be matched by reconstruction and repairs that will contribute to growth over time.

The short-term blow to the economy, though, could subtract about 0.6 percentage point from U.S. economic growth in the October-December quarter, IHS says. Retailers, airlines and home construction firms will likely lose some business.

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New York Stock Exchange will reopen Wednesday

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Stock Exchange will reopen for regular trading Wednesday after being shut for two days because of Hurricane Sandy.

The exchange said in a statement Tuesday that its building and trading floor are fully operational and that normal trading will resume at the usual starting time of 9:30 a.m.

There had been erroneous reports Monday that the exchange floor had flooded. Exchange spokesman Ray Pellecchia said the exchange's building did not have any flooding or damage.

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After Sandy, canceled flights but no airport chaos

NEW YORK (AP) — Hurricane Sandy has left more than 16,000 flight cancellations in its wake.

Chaos at airports? Hardly.

Not long ago, a powerful storm pounding the Northeast would have brought havoc to some of the nation's busiest airports: families sleeping on the floor amidst mounds of luggage; passengers stuck for hours on planes hoping to take off; and dinners cobbled together from near-empty vending machines.

In the aftermath of Sandy, airports from Washington to Boston are deserted. There are hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded across the U.S. and around the world, but instead of camping out inside airport terminals they are staying with friends and family or in hotels.

After years of storm mismanagement and the bad public relations that followed, U.S. airlines have rewritten their severe weather playbooks. They've learned that it's best to cancel flights early and keep the public away from airports, even if that means they'll have a bigger backlog to deal with once conditions improve.

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Sandy takes out 25 percent of cell towers

NEW YORK (AP) — Hurricane Sandy knocked out a quarter of the cell towers in an area spreading across ten states, and the situation could get worse, federal regulators said Tuesday.

Many cell towers that are still working are doing so with the help of generators and could run out of fuel before commercial power is restored, the Federal Communications Commission said.

The landline phone network has held up better in the affected area, which stretches from Virginia to Massachusetts, the FCC said, but about a quarter of cable customers are also without service.

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US home prices rise in August at faster pace

WASHINGTON (AP) — Home prices rose in August in nearly all U.S. cities, and many of the markets hit hardest during the crisis are starting to show sustained gains. The increases are the latest evidence of a steady housing recovery.

The Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index reported Tuesday that national home prices increased 2 percent in August compared with the same month a year ago. That's the third straight increase and a faster pace than in July.

The report also said that prices rose in August from July in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the index. Prices had risen in all 20 cities in the previous three months.

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Disney to make new 'Star Wars' films, buy Lucas company

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A decade after George Lucas said "Star Wars" was finished on the big screen, a new trilogy is destined for theaters after The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it was buying Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion.

The seventh movie, with a working title of "Episode 7," is set for release in 2015. Episodes 8 and 9 will follow. The new trilogy will carry the story of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia beyond "Return of the Jedi," the third film released and the sixth in the saga. After that, Disney plans a new "Star Wars" movie every two or three years. Lucas will serve as creative consultant in the new movies.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said Lucasfilm had already developed an extensive story line on the next trilogy, and Episode 7 was now in early stage development.

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Ford reports $1.63 billion 3Q profit despite Europe woes

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Europe may have lost its appetite for new cars, but buyers in America and China propelled Ford to a better-than-expected profit in the third quarter.

Ford Motor Co. earned $1.63 billion, down only slightly from a year earlier, despite lower worldwide sales and bigger European losses. It was the company's best performance ever in the third quarter.

Ford said Tuesday its per-share net income was unchanged at 41 cents. Excluding one-time items, like severance payouts, Ford earned 40 cents per share, beating Wall Street's forecast of 30 cents, according to FactSet.

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Fiat plans to launch 17 new cars in Europe by 2016

ROME (AP) — While European competitors close factories and get government bailouts, Italian carmaker Fiat is banking on its under-exposed luxury brands to put idled Italian car plants to work and stem losses in its European operations.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne announced an ambitious four-year plan Tuesday to ramp up production of Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands in Italy, where Fiat will launch 17 new models to be built in Fiat's five Italian plants from 2013-2016.

Fiat, which owns U.S. carmaker Chrysler, also will unveil a new smaller Jeep for production in Italy aimed primarily at Europe, and focus the Fiat brand on the 500 and Panda compact car ranges.

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UBS slashes business in turnaround bid

GENEVA (AP) — Scarred by scandals and losses, Swiss bank UBS unveiled Tuesday a plan to overhaul its global operations that will see it cut thousands of jobs as it drops risky trading activities and restructures its investment banking unit.

Switzerland's biggest bank has for years been trying to reshape its business and clean up its image as it tries to recover from a damaging U.S. tax evasion dispute, a scandal over unauthorized trades and a slew of bad investments.

Tuesday's plan represented a sudden acceleration in this turnaround effort.

UBS AG will cut 10,000 jobs, on top of 3,500 shed last year, as it drops out of trading in fixed income — which includes bonds and currencies — and rejiggers its investment banking.

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Nokia begins shipping Windows 8 phones

HELSINKI (AP) — Nokia says its Windows 8 phones will hit stores in Britain and France this week, before reaching Russia, Germany and other select markets in November.

The Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 are the ailing company's first handsets to use Microsoft's Windows 8 software, launched last week.

In North America, AT&T will sell the new models, while Verizon Wireless — the largest cellphone carrier in the U.S. — will be the only operator to sell the Lumia 822. T-Mobile will offer the Nokia Lumia 810. All three will have phones in stores next month.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

U.S. stock markets were closed Tuesday due to superstorm Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange will reopen for regular trading Wednesday.

Benchmark crude rose 14 cents to finish at $85.68 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price many international varieties of crude, fell 36 cents to $109.08 per barrel.

Natural gas lost 11 cents to finish at $3.69 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil was down 3 cents to end at $3.09 per gallon. Gasoline futures fell 3 cents to end at $2.73 a gallon.


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