AP News

Business Highlights


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Commercial pilots often head to wrong airports

WASHINGTON (AP) — At a time when a cellphone can guide you to your driveway, commercial pilots attempt to land at the wrong airport more often than most passengers realize or government officials admit, according to an Associated Press search of government safety data and news reports since the early 1990s.

On at least 150 flights, including a Southwest Airlines jet last month in Missouri and a jumbo cargo plane last fall in Kansas, U.S. commercial passenger and cargo planes have either landed at the wrong airport or started to land and realized their mistake in time.

A particular trouble spot is San Jose, Calif. The list of landing mistakes includes six reports of pilots preparing to land at Moffett Field, a joint civilian-military airport, when they meant to go to Mineta San Jose International Airport, about 10 miles to the southeast.

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Health law's employer requirement will phase in

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is giving another delay to business groups concerned about the health care law's requirement that larger firms cover their workers.

The Treasury Department announced Monday that companies with 50 to 99 employees have an additional year to comply with the coverage mandate, until January 1, 2016.

For businesses with 100 or more employees the requirement will still take effect in 2015. But other newly announced provisions may help some of those firms.

The employer requirement was originally supposed to take effect this year for companies with 50 or more workers. The administration delayed it last year, the first sign of potential problems with the rollout of President Barack Obama's health care law.

Under the law, companies with fewer than 50 employees don't have to offer coverage.

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First lady praises construction industry hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama said Monday that a pledge by the construction industry to hire more than 100,000 veterans by early 2019 is "a huge deal" that, besides doing right by former service members, will help companies grow and boost the U.S. economy for decades to come.

Mrs. Obama announced the commitment by more than 100 construction companies and associations at a conference sponsored by the Department of Labor and Joining Forces, a nationwide effort that she and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched nearly three years ago to rally the U.S. around military veterans, active duty service members and their families.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said the announcement marked the first time that an entire industry has pledged to focus on providing jobs and training opportunities to military veterans.

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McDonald's US sales chilled by January weather

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's says bad weather hurt its U.S. sales performance in January, representing another setback as the fast-food chain fights to fend off rivals and get its menu right.

The world's biggest hamburger chain says sales fell 3.3 percent at established U.S. locations last month.

Its global sales figure rose 1.2 percent, however, lifted by improvements in Europe and the region encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The decline in the U.S. is just the latest disappointment for McDonald's, which has conceded that its kitchen operations got overly complicated by the pace of new menu offerings. CEO Don Thompson also recently noted that the chain has lost some of its "relevance" with customers.

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Alibaba offers to buy AutoNavi in $1.58B deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is offering to take Chinese digital mapping and navigation company AutoNavi private in a deal that values the entire business at approximately $1.58 billion.

AutoNavi's stock surged more than 27 percent in Monday premarket trading. The company said that it plans to form a committee of independent directors to consider the proposal.

Alibaba said in a regulatory filing that it will pay $21 per American depository share, or $5.25 per ordinary share. Each ADS represents four ordinary shares.

The filing said that Alibaba's proposal assumes about 300.4 million outstanding ordinary shares of AutoNavi Holdings Ltd.

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Google passes Exxon to be No. 2 US company

NEW YORK (AP) — Google has passed Exxon to become the second most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization.

According to FactSet data, the Internet company's market capitalization surpassed that of oil company Exxon Mobil Corp. last week. As of Friday's market close, it sat at $395.42 billion compared with the oil company's $392.66 billion.

Shares of Google Inc. have been on a steady climb since the beginning of 2013, gaining 66 percent.

Market capitalization is the number of outstanding shares multiplied by their value.

Meanwhile, Exxon's have risen just 5 percent. Since the beginning of this year, they've lost about 10 percent of their value.

Both companies trail Apple Inc.'s market capitalization of $463.55 billion.

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Icahn retreats from Apple battle on stock buybacks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Activist investor Carl Icahn is retreating from his battle with Apple's board of directors, ending a high-profile campaign to pressure the iPhone maker into spending more money to buy back its own stock.

The about-face outlined in an Icahn letter to Apple's shareholders figures to turn the company's Feb. 28 annual meeting into a more sedate affair.

Icahn had been trying to drum up support for a non-binding proposal urging Apple Inc. to spend at least $50 billion buying back its shares during the fiscal year ending in September. The idea faced mounting opposition from other stockholders who supported the company's board.

To hit Icahn's target, Apple's board would have had to increase the volume of stock buybacks authorized under a program unveiled last year. That plan allows Apple to spend $60 billion on its stock through December 2015. The company only had $37 billion still left for stock purchases under that plan as it began the fiscal year.

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Kraft Singles to lose artificial preservatives

NEW YORK (AP) — Kraft is removing artificial preservatives from its most popular individually wrapped cheese slices, in the latest sign that companies are tweaking recipes as food labels come under greater scrutiny.

The change affects the company's Kraft Singles in the full-fat American and White American varieties, which Kraft says account for the majority of the brand's sales. Sorbic acid is being replaced by natamycin, which Kraft says is a "natural mold inhibitor."

Kraft's decision comes as a growing number of Americans pay closer attention to what they eat and try to stick to foods they feel are natural. That has prompted a number of food makers to change their recipes.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average turned slightly higher in late trading and closed up 7.71 points, or 0.1 percent, at 15,801.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,799.84 and the Nasdaq composite rose 22.31 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,148.17.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March gained 18 cents to close at $100.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $2.72 a gallon. Heating oil shed 5 cents to $2.99 a gallon. Natural gas lost 20 cents to $4.58 per 1,000 cubic feet and has dropped 17.6 percent since closing at a four-year high of $5.56 on Jan. 29.

Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international varieties of crude, dropped 94 cents to $108.63 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.


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