AP News

Business Highlights


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US bank earnings up 6.6 percent, most in 6 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. banks earned more from July through September than in any other quarter over the past six years. The increase is further evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the 2008 financial crisis.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that the banking industry earned $37.6 billion in the third quarter, up 6.6 percent from $35.3 billion in the third quarter of 2011.

About 57 percent of the banks reported improved earnings, which allowed them to set aside less for losses on loans. And the number of troubled banks fell to the lowest level in three years.

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US home prices rise in October by most in 6 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of U.S. home prices rose 6.3 percent in October compared with a year ago, the largest yearly gain since July 2006. The jump adds to signs of a comeback in the once-battered housing market.

Core Logic also said Tuesday that prices declined 0.2 percent in October from September, the second drop after six straight monthly increases. The monthly figures are not seasonally adjusted. The real estate data provider says the decline reflects the end of the summer home-buying season.

Steady price increases are helping fuel a housing recovery, as more homeowners to sell their homes. That also encourages would-be buyers to buy homes before prices rise further.

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Fast-growing fish may never wind up on your plate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Salmon that's been genetically modified to grow twice as fast as normal could show up on your dinner plate, if the company that makes the fish can stay afloat.

After weathering concerns about everything from the safety of eating the salmon to their impact on the environment, Aquabounty was poised to become the world's first company to sell fish with DNA altered to speed up growth.

The Food and Drug Administration in 2010 concluded that Aquabounty's salmon was as safe to eat as the traditional variety. The agency also said that there's little chance that the salmon could escape and breed with wild fish and disrupt the ecosystem. But more than two years later the FDA has not approved the fish, and Aquabounty is running out of money.

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After Sandy, NYC pins housing hope on repairs

NEW YORK (AP) — Facing Superstorm Sandy's daunting toll of wreckage and displacement in the nation's largest city, officials have put much of their hopes and hundreds of millions of dollars into jump-starting repairs to make homes livable.

Federal and city officials see the strategy — focusing on getting people back into their own homes, not temporary housing — as an innovative and nimble answer to the challenge of housing thousands of storm victims in a notoriously expensive and crowded area.

But with relatively few homes fixed so far, questions are emerging about whether the "rapid repairs" initiative can live up to its name.

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Darden cites failed promotions for lower outlook

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Darden Restaurants Inc. is cutting its profit forecast for the year, with the owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster blaming failed promotions and negative publicity generated by its tests to limit health care costs for workers.

The company's stock tumbled nearly 10 percent.

Darden Chairman and CEO Clarence Otis said Tuesday that the company's promotions didn't resonate as well with "financially stretched" diners as those of competitors during its fiscal second quarter. He said the disappointing results show the need for bold changes and that Darden would revise its promotional calendars to better fit with the financial realities of diners.

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Netflix outbids pay TV for rights to Disney movies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix's video subscription service has trumped pay-TV channels and grabbed the rights to show Disney movies shortly after they finish their runs in theaters.

The multiyear licensing agreement announced Tuesday represents a breakthrough for Netflix as it tries to add more recent movies to a popular service that streams video over high-speed Internet connections.

Netflix will have exclusive U.S. rights to offer the first-run movies through its streaming service during the period normally reserved for premium TV networks such as HBO, Starz and Showtime. That period starts about seven months after movies leave theaters. The exclusivity does not extend to DVDs, a service Netflix is trying to phase out.

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Baxter to buy Swedish firm Gambro in $2.76 billion deal

DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Drug and medical device maker Baxter International plans to buy the privately held Swedish company Gambro AB for about $2.76 billion to broaden its dialysis product portfolio.

Gambro makes dialysis products for patients with acute or chronic kidney disease, and Baxter said it had sales of about $1.6 billion last year.

Baxter International Inc., based in Deerfield, Ill., said dialysis treatment rates are rising by more than 5 percent annually, partly due to growing rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. More than 2 million people globally are on some form of dialysis.

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Icahn gives up bid for truck maker Oshkosh

NEW YORK (AP) — Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is giving up his bid to buy truck maker Oshkosh after less than 25 percent of the company's shares were tendered before his offer expired.

OshKosh Corp. shares fell nearly 4 percent Tuesday.

Last week Icahn made it clear that he would walk away from his bid that valued the company at about $3 billion if the threshold wasn't met. The tender offer expired on Monday, with about 22 percent of shares tendered.

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Toll Brothers 4Q net income soars on tax benefit

NEW YORK (AP) — Toll Brothers says its fiscal fourth-quarter net income soared, helped by a large income-tax benefit and a 48 percent rise in revenue. The luxury homebuilder delivered more homes and its order backlog increased.

CEO Douglas C. Yearley Jr. said in a statement on Tuesday that higher home prices, low interest rates, pent-up demand and improving consumer confidence prompted buyers to return to the housing market this year.

Last week a batch of government reports showed that rising home values, more hiring and lower gas prices pushed consumer confidence in November to the highest level in nearly five years. On Tuesday Core Logic reported that a measure of U.S. home prices rose 6.3 percent in October compared with a year ago, the largest yearly gain since July 2006.

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FedEx to offer buyouts with up to 2 years' pay

NEW YORK (AP) — FedEx said Tuesday that it will offer some employees up to two years' pay to leave the company, starting next year.

The voluntary program is part of an effort by the world's second-biggest package delivery company to cut annual costs by $1.7 billion within three years.

The restructuring is a response to a shift by customers away from premium package-delivery services and toward slower, less expensive modes as the global economy struggles to grow.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 13.82 points at 12,951.78. The Standard and Poor's 500 was down 2.41 points to 1,407.05. The Nasdaq composite was down 5.51 at 2,996.69.

Benchmark crude finished down 59 cents at $88.50 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, lost $1.08 to end at $109.84 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Heating oil fell 5 cents to finish at $3.00 a gallon. Natural gas lost 5 cents to end at $3.54 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell 3.75 cents to finish at $2.69 a gallon.


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