Dothan Eagle

Aug 25, 5:27 PM EDT

Business Highlights


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Yellen, in speech Friday, could send signal about next hike

WASHINGTON (AP) - The job market is humming, and so are the U.S. financial markets, with major stock indexes near record highs.

All that would normally trigger a green light for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. Yet the Fed, still casting a wary eye on the economy, has yet to signal that it will resume raising rates soon.

That signal, though, could come as soon as Friday, when Fed Chair Janet Yellen will address the annual meeting of the world's central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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Mylan boosts EpiPen patient programs, doesn't budge on price

Mylan is bulking up programs that help patients pay for its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment after weathering heated criticism about an average cost that has soared over the past decade. But the drugmaker didn't budge on its price hikes Thursday, which have drawn ire both in Congress and from families that have had to shell out increasingly large sums for the potentially life-saving treatment.

That means the insurers and employers that pay the bulk of the EpiPen cost for many patients will continue to do so, contributing to higher health insurance costs.

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WhatsApp is going to share your phone number with Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Global messaging service WhatsApp says it will start sharing the phone numbers of its users with Facebook, its parent company. That means WhatsApp users could soon start seeing more targeted ads and Facebook friend suggestions on Facebook based on WhatsApp information - although not on the messaging service itself.

The move is a subtle but significant shift for WhatsApp, used by more than 1 billion people around the world. When it was acquired by Facebook for an eye-popping $21.8 billion two years ago, executives promised privacy would be safeguarded.

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Russian man convicted of hacking into US businesses

SEATTLE (AP) - A jury has convicted a Russian man of hacking into U.S. businesses to steal credit card information and orchestrating an international theft scheme that made him millions of dollars.

The jury found Roman Seleznev guilty of 38 charges, including wire fraud and hacking. He could face up to 34 years in prison.

Seleznev hacked into businesses, mostly pizza restaurants in Washington state, and stole millions of credit card numbers that he sold. The thefts led to almost $170 million in credit card losses and made him one of the most prolific credit card traffickers in history.

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Volkswagen, dealers reach tentative deal in cheating scandal

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Volkswagen has reached a tentative deal with its U.S. dealers to compensate them for losses they said they suffered as a result of the company's emissions cheating scandal, attorneys for the carmaker and dealers told a federal judge Thursday.

The value of the settlement with the roughly 650 dealers was not disclosed, although Volkswagen said in a statement later that it would include cash payments.

Details of the settlement were still under discussion. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer gave the attorneys until the end of September to submit a final proposal.

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Amazon starts car research and review site

NEW YORK (AP) - Amazon is starting a site offering research, reviews and other information on new and used cars.

The latest venture by the e-commerce powerhouse will compete with established players in the field including CarSoup.com, Edmunds.com, truecar.com and cars.com.

Amazon Vehicles won't sell cars. But in addition to car specifications, images, videos and customer reviews, the new site will let customers ask each other questions about cars.

Amazon.com Inc. already sells car parts and accessories in its Amazon Automotive store.

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Applications for US unemployment benefits slipped last week

WASHINGTON (AP) - Slightly fewer people filed for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a sign the American job market remains healthy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless aid slipped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 261,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped by 1,250 to 264,000. Overall, the number of people receiving unemployment checks fell by 30,000 to 2.15 million, down 5 percent from a year earlier.

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Indian textile maker Welspun under scrutiny over sheets

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. retailers including J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart are scrutinizing whether sheets Welspun India Ltd. had said were high-end Egyptian cotton were actually cheaper knock-offs, questions that have sent the textile company's shares plunging.

Since Target announced Friday that it was pulling the sheets and was terminating its relationship with the company, other retailers have launched investigations into the certification claims from Welspun.

Welspun told investors this week it's conducting an audit.

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Sears moves to quarterly loss, sales keep faltering

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) - Sears posted a second-quarter loss, with perpetually weak sales overshadowing the retailer's efforts to cut costs and slow its cash burn. CEO Edward Lampert's hedge fund will forward the ailing chain $300 million in additional debt financing.

Traditional department stores like Sears are trying to reinvent themselves as shoppers shift more of their purchases online, buy clothes at discounters and spend more on experiences. But Sears has dealt with weak sales for years, unable to keep up with competitors in appliances, like Home Depot, or general merchandise, like Wal-Mart, or everything, like Amazon.com.

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Dollar General, Dollar Tree report weak sales growth

NEW YORK (AP) - Dollar General and Dollar Tree both reported weaker-than-expected sales figures Thursday, as struggling lower-income shoppers spent less at the rival stores.

Dollar General said a cut in food-stamp benefits in several states kept its customers away. Sales at stores open at least a year, a measure of a retailer's health, rose 0.7 percent in its second quarter, below market expectations of a 2.7 percent increase.

Dollar Tree said some of its customers were "under pressure" and that sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.2 percent in its second quarter. Analysts expected growth of 2.4 percent.

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Jury: GM car's ignition switch not to blame in fatal crash

HOUSTON (AP) - A Texas jury found that a General Motors Co. ignition switch was not to blame for a 2011 accident that killed one driver and injured another, handing the carmaker its third courtroom win this year in a series of trials designed to help attorneys settle dozens of similar claims.

Zachary Stevens and his parents had sued GM, claiming a faulty ignition switch in Stevens' Saturn Sky jostled off, causing him to lose control of his car and hit another vehicle, killing its driver.

Attorneys for GM told jurors in Houston the accident was caused by Stevens' reckless speeding on a rain-slick road.

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World's first self-driving taxis debut in Singapore

SINGAPORE (AP) - The world's first self-driving taxis are picking up passengers in Singapore.

Select members of the public began hailing free rides Thursday through their smartphones in taxis operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup. The service is starting small - six cars now, growing to a dozen by the end of the year. The ultimate goal, say nuTonomy officials, is to have a fully self-driving taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018.

For now, the taxis are only running in a 2.5-square-mile business and residential district and pick-ups and drop-offs are limited to specified locations.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 33.07 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,448.41. The S&P 500 gave up 2.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,172.47. The Nasdaq composite edged down 5.49 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,212.20.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 55 cents to $47.32 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price oil internationally, rose 55 cents to $49.60 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.51 a gallon, heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.51 a gallon and natural gas rose 5 cents to $2.85 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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