Thursday, August 4, 2011

Business stories under consideration at Oakland Press

Among the business news stories for Thursday from the Associated Press:
NEW YORK — Many retailers posted solid sales in July as deep discounts and sweltering heat drove shoppers to air conditioned malls. But merchants worry that momentum won’t continue through the back-to-school shopping season. By Anne D’Innocenzio.
NORTHFIELD, Ill. — Kraft Foods said it plans to split into two publicly traded companies, with one concentrating on its snack business like Oreo cookies and Trident gum while the other focuses on the North American grocery business, which includes Kraft cheese and Maxwell House coffee. By Sarah Skidmore.
DETROIT — After years of big discounts, General Motors is finally getting a good price for its cars and trucks, and it’s helping the company’s bottom line. Detroit’s biggest car company surprised Wall Street by doubling its second-quarter profit. By Dee-Ann Durbin.
WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week, a sign the job market may be improving slowly. The Labor Department says that applications for unemployment benefits edged down 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 400,000. That’s the lowest level in four months. By Christopher S. Rugaber.
— MORTGAGE RATES — The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage has fallen to its lowest level in decades.
NEW YORK — Stocks sank again as investors continued to fret about the struggling economies in Europe and slow growth in the U.S. By David K. Randall.
— OIL PRICES — Oil prices fell below $91 a barrel as investors continued to fret over the global economic recovery.
NEW YORK — CVS Caremark says its profit slipped 1 percent in the second quarter as its pharmacy benefits management business weathered lower prices on contract renewals. By Marley Seaman.
DALLAS — Southwest Airlines is making more money than it did a year ago because of higher fares and the acquisition of AirTran Airways. But fuel costs are up 64 percent from a year ago, and Southwest’s profit isn’t as big as analysts expected. By Dave Koenig.
— NETHERLANDS-EARNS-UNILEVER — Consumer products giant Unilever NV reported a 10 percent rise in first half earnings, as the company successfully passed on higher raw materials costs to customers.
— AUSTRALIA-EARNS-RIO TINTO — Mining giant Rio Tinto said its six-month profit jumped 30 percent to a record $7.6 billion, driven by strong Asian demand for iron ore and other minerals.
— EARNS-ALPHA NATURAL RESOURCES — Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources lost $56.4 million in the second quarter, reversing a profit from last year, as the company booked a $254 million charge related to its acquisition of rival Massey Energy.
— EARNS-CIGNA — Cigna said its second-quarter net income jumped 39 percent compared to last year’s quarter, which was lowered by a loss on a discontinued business. The Philadelphia health insurer hiked its earnings forecast for 2011.
MILAN — Sergio Marchionne’s corporate jet has served a sort of mile-high headquarters as the CEO crisscrosses oceans and continents to integrate and expand Fiat and Chrysler. But the moment is coming, analysts say, when the high-flying CEO will have to choose a fixed center for the global car business he is building. Detroit or Turin: It’s a politically fraught decision. By Business Writers Colleen Barry And Tom Krisher.
— TAINTED GROUND TURKEY — Meat giant Cargill is recalling 36 million pounds of turkey after a government hunt for the source of a salmonella outbreak that has killed one person in California and sickened dozens more.
— PIPELINE ACCIDENTS-CONGRESS — Republican and Democratic lawmakers say momentum is building to rewrite federal safety rules for the nation’s aging network of energy pipelines.
— JAPAN-HITACHI-MITSUBISHI HEAVY — Japanese manufacturing giants Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. denied they are in talks to combine their businesses, just hours after Hitachi’s president said an announcement was imminent.
LAS VEGAS — Even the human bloodstream isn’t safe from computer hackers. A security researcher has identified several flaws that could allow an attacker to remotely control diabetics’ insulin pumps and alter the readouts of their blood sugar monitor. As a result, diabetics could get too much or too little insulin, a hormone they need for proper metabolism. By Jordan Robertson.
LinkedIn Corp. reports quarterly financial results after the market close. By Michael Liedtke.
NEW YORK — T-Mobile USA continued to lose wireless customers in the second quarter, but did a better job of keeping them than in the first three months of the year, when subscribers fled in record numbers. By Technology Writer Peter Svensson.
— GERMANY-EARNS-DEUTSCHE TELEKOM — Deutsche Telekom said net profit fell 27 percent in the second quarter as it took one-time charges for early retirements in Germany and faced lagging revenue and excessive customer turnover in the U.S. mobile business it is selling to AT&T.
— EARNS-DIRECTV — Satellite TV provider DirecTV said net income in the second quarter increased 29 percent as its subscriber base grew, especially in Latin America.
— JAPAN-SONY — Sony’s next-generation portable game machine, the PlayStation Vita, won’t be available in the U.S. or Europe in time for Christmas, a crucial sales period for game console makers.
FRANKFURT, Germany — European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet isn’t saying whether the bank is propping up Spanish and Italian bonds to quell debt market turmoil, but insisted that the bond-buying program has not been shelved. By David McHugh.
— EUROPE-FINANCIAL CRISIS — The 17-country eurozone needs to make further changes to its bailout fund — including boosting its size — to ensure it can stop the debt crisis from drawing in big economies like Italy and Spain, a top European Union official said.
— BRITAIN-INTEREST RATES — The Bank of England left its key rate on hold at the record low of 0.5 percent as concerns over Britain’s sluggish economic recovery outweighed inflation concerns.
TOKYO — Japan intervened in the foreign currency market and its central bank engineered a monetary boost, landing a one-two punch to knock the yen from levels that threaten the country’s post-disaster recovery. By Tomoko A. Hosaka.
— FRANCE-IMF CHIEF — A French court ordered an investigation into new IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s role in a much-criticized $400 million arbitration deal in favor of a controversial tycoon.
— GERMANY-ECONOMY — German industrial orders rose 1.8 percent in June, posting an unexpected third straight month of solid growth.
— GERMANY-EARNS-ADIDAS — Shoe and sports clothing maker Adidas says net profit rose 11 percent in the second quarter and reported a big jump in sales in China.
— NETHERLANDS-EARNS-ING — Financial firm ING Groep NV reported a 24 percent rise in second quarter profit because of a strong recovery at the insurance operations it intends to sell or spin off.


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