AP News

Business Highlights


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Middle East is new global travel crossroads

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — It's 1 a.m. and the sprawling airport in this desert city is bustling. Enough languages fill the air to make a United Nations translator's head spin.

Thousands of fliers arrive every hour from China, Australia, India and nearly everywhere else on the planet. Few venture outside the terminal, which spans the length of 24 football fields. They come instead to catch connecting flights to somewhere else.

If it weren't for three ambitious and rapidly expanding government-owned airlines — Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — they might have never come to the Middle East.

For generations, international fliers have stopped over in London, Paris and Amsterdam. Now, they increasingly switch planes in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi, making this region the new crossroads of global travel. The switch is driven by both the airports and airlines, all backed by governments that see aviation as the way to make their countries bigger players in the global economy.

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Asian firm buys site of stalled Vegas Strip casino

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Panda habitats, tea gardens and red pagodas have never been part of the visual vocabulary of the Las Vegas Strip. But Sin City is about to get all three and much more as a Malaysian conglomerate prepares to build the first new mega-casino to come to town since the recession wiped out a slew of projects in 2008.

The Genting Group announced Monday that it will break ground in 2014 on the 87-acre site where the partially built Echelon project has sat for nearly five years, put on indefinite hold by Boyd Gaming Corp.

Executives said they are launching the new project despite continued softness of gambling revenue here because they are ideally positioned to capitalize on the flood of Asian tourists flocking to the Strip.

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Republicans unveil government funding measure

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans controlling the House moved Monday to give the Pentagon more money for military readiness while easing the pain felt by such agencies as the FBI and the Border Patrol from the across-the-board spending cuts that are just starting to take effect.

The effort is part of a huge spending measure that would fund day-to-day federal operations through September — and head off a potential government shutdown later this month.

The measure would leave in place automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon ordered by President Barack Obama Friday night after months of battling with Republicans over the budget. But the House Republicans' legislation would award the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments their detailed 2013 budgets while other agencies would be frozen at 2012 levels — and then bear the across-the-board cuts.

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Forbes: Slim world's richest for 4th year in a row

NEW YORK (AP) — Mexico's Carlos Slim remains the world's richest man for the fourth year in a row, according to Forbes, while Warren Buffett dropped out of the top three for the first time since 2000.

And Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg saw his ranking drop 31 spots as his net worth declined by $4.2 billion.

A record 1,426 people around the world made Forbes magazine's latest annual tally of billionaires, up 16 percent from last year. Their average net worth was $3.8 billion, rising 3 percent from 2012. The total net worth for the list's billionaires was $5.4 trillion compared with $4.6 trillion a year ago.

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Obama nominates 3 to Cabinet-level posts

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama signaled his willingness to tackle climate change with his pick of Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, one of three major appointments he announced Monday.

A 25-year veteran of environmental policy and politics, McCarthy has worked for Republicans and Democrats, including Obama's presidential rival, Mitt Romney, who tapped her to help draft state plans for curbing the pollution linked to global warming. Along with McCarthy, Obama nominated MIT nuclear physicist Ernie Moniz to lead the Energy Department and Wal-Mart's Sylvia Mathews Burwell to head the budget office.

McCarthy, 58, a Boston native, has led the EPA's air pollution division since 2009, ushering in a host of new rules targeting air pollution from power plants, automobiles, and oil and gas production.

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JC Penney could wind up with empty shelves

NEW YORK (AP) — J.C. Penney, which is struggling with big losses and steep sales declines, could face another challenge: empty shelves.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey Oing told Penney's attorneys on Monday that the chain took a risk by ordering towels, cookware and other products from the company that home diva Martha Stewart founded. In fact, Oing said he could force Penney to stop the products from heading to the shelves this spring even as they come off the docks.

Oing said he will hear oral arguments on Friday over the issue of whether Penney can sell goods like towels designed by Martha Stewart Living that are covered by Macy's exclusive agreement but are not sold under the Martha Stewart brand name.

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Hess, under pressure, to exit retail business

NEW YORK (AP) — Hess is getting out of the gas station business and ridding itself of its energy trading and marketing businesses, as it shifts its focus further into exploration and production.

The company will also nominate a slate of six independent directors to its board, replacing six that already hold seats.

The announcement arrives about a month after the hedge fund Elliott Management, one of the company's largest shareholders, accused the board of "poor oversight," and said that the company's management was responsible for more than a "decade of failures."

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Cyprus OKs audit of anti-money-laundering policies

BRUSSELS (AP) — European finance ministers on Monday pushed cash-strapped Cyprus into accepting an independent audit probing whether the country's financial institutions comply with international rules aimed at combatting money-laundering, officials said.

Cyprus, the euro region's third-smallest economy, urgently needs money from its European partners to prop up its ailing banks and keep its government afloat after getting caught up in Greece's debt crisis.

But on Monday night, the 17-nation eurozone's finance ministers failed to clarify how to fund the long-delayed rescue loan package for Cyprus without burdening the country with an unsustainably high debt.

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Volkswagen's Golf named Europe's Car of the Year

GENEVA (AP) — The Volkswagen Golf has been named Europe's Car of the Year by automotive journalists from more than 20 countries.

Introduced in 1974 and recently redesigned, the hatchback is the company's mass-market flagship — and a key element in its ambition to overtake Toyota as the world's biggest carmaker.

The car left the competition in the dust Monday on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, grabbing 414 votes. The Subaru BRZ, also sold as the Toyota GT-86, was second with 202 votes and the Volvo V40 third with 189 votes.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 14,127.82. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,525.20. The Nasdaq composite gained 12.29 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,182.03.

Benchmark oil for April delivery fell 56 cents to finish at $90.12 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 31 cents to $110.09 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $3.10 a gallon. Heating oil slipped 1 cent to $2.92 a gallon. Natural gas gained 7 cents to $3.53 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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