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Dec 6, 5:49 PM EST

Business Highlights


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Trump interjects himself in Air Force One, business deals

NEW YORK (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump, a political newcomer who touts his corporate skills, turned businessman-in-chief Tuesday, first demanding the government cancel a multibillion-dollar order for new presidential planes and then hailing a Japanese company's commitment to invest billions in the U.S.

Six weeks before taking office, Trump is telegraphing that he'll take an interventionist role in the nation's economy - as well as play showman when he sees a chance. The celebrity businessman's declaration about Air Force One caused manufacturer Boeing's stock to drop temporarily and raised fresh questions about how his administration - not to mention his Twitter volleys - could affect the economy.

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Phone and bank stocks push indexes higher; Dow at record

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks posted slight gains on Tuesday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to another record, helped by shares of telecommunications companies such as Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

Telecommunications stocks were among the biggest gainers, helped by a myriad of company-specific news. Verizon climbed 61 cents, or 1 percent, to $50.36 and AT&T rose 72 cents, or 2 percent, to $39.35. Overall, the telecom sector of the S&P 500 rose 1.5 percent.

Small companies and bank stocks also rose as investors continue to speculate that U.S. economic growth will pick up under the incoming Trump administration.

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Chipotle co-CEO: Half of restaurants have poor service

NEW YORK (AP) - Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells says that half of the chain's more than 2,100 restaurants have less-than-excellent customer service.

Ells says the company has been focused on training workers on new food safety protocols after food safety scares last year sickened some customers. Now that the Denver-based company is satisfied with its new protocols, it's turning its attention to better customer service to try and win back customers.

Although there are signs customers are returning to Chipotle, Ells says that he is not "satisfied" with the company's rate of recovery.

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Alaska Airlines gets US approval to buy Virgin America

WASHINGTON (AP) - Alaska Airlines has won government approval to buy rival Virgin America after agreeing to reduce its flight-selling partnership with American Airlines.

Parent company Alaska Air Group Inc. said Tuesday that it expects to close the $2.6 billion deal soon.

Seattle-based Alaska is the nation's sixth-biggest airline, and California-based Virgin is eighth. Together, they will become the fifth-biggest.

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SeaWorld cutting 320 jobs in restructuring

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. is eliminating 320 jobs across the company.

The company said the goal of the restructuring is to reduce costs and improve the company's operations. The cuts involve both salaried and hourly workers.

SeaWorld makes the move after struggling with falling attendance and revenue in the face of a campaign by animal-rights activists.

The company has parks in Florida, Texas, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

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Ikea expanding parental leave; crib assembly still your job

NEW YORK (AP) - Ikea's U.S. division is offering longer parental leave to employees who are new parents, following similar overtures from tech companies like Netflix as it strives to keep good workers in an improving job market.

The ready-to-assemble furniture chain said Tuesday it will offer its 13,000 salaried and hourly employees in the U.S. up to four months of paid parental leave. Effective Jan. 1, the policy will apply to mothers and fathers who are birth, adoptive or foster parents.

Ikea had previously given women giving birth five days of paid leave in addition to six to eight weeks of paid disability leave.

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US productivity up 3.1 percent in third quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) - The productivity of American workers rose in the July-September quarter at the fastest pace in two years while labor costs slowed after a big jump in the spring.

Productivity increased in the third quarter at a 3.1 percent rate, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. That followed three quarterly declines and was the best showing since the third quarter of 2014. Labor costs edged up at a 0.7 percent rate in the third quarter following a much faster 6.2 percent jump in the second quarter.

The rebound in productivity was expected to be temporary.

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Google hits renewable energy goal in quest to pare pollution

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google says that beginning next year, it believes it will have amassed enough renewable energy to meet all of its electricity needs throughout the world.

That's significant, given Google's ravenous appetite for electricity to power its offices and the huge data centers that process requests for its services.

That doesn't mean Google will be able to power its operations solely on wind and solar power. That is impossible given the complicated power grids and regulations. But it may be in a position to offset every megawatt hour of electricity supplied by a power plant running on fossil fuels with renewable energy.

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Justices uphold Katrina fraud verdict against State Farm

WASHINGTON (AP) - A unanimous Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a jury verdict that State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. committed fraud against the federal government after 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

The justices on Tuesday rejected claims by State Farm that the whistleblower case against the insurer should have been dismissed because its existence was leaked while it was supposed to be secret.

Sisters Cori and Kerry Rigsby filed the fraud lawsuit on behalf of the government after they said they witnessed State Farm shifting Mississippi claims to federal flood insurance that should have been paid by private wind insurance.

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Longtime Lego CEO to be replaced next year

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Lego announced Tuesday that its CEO, who has led the Danish company for 12 years, will be replaced by another company executive.

Lego said that 60-year-old Bali Padda will take over Jan. 1 from Joergen Vig Knudstorp, who will head up a new entity within the group. Padda, the current chief operations officer, joined Lego in 2002.

It was not immediately clear why Vig Knudstorp, who in 2004 became the first non-family member to head the group, will be replaced. Under him, the toymaker's annual income has gone from a loss to a notable profit.

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The Dow Jones industrial rose 35.54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 19,251.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 index picked up 7.52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,212.23. The Nasdaq composite added 24.11 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5,333.00.

Benchmark U.S. crude closed down 86 cents to $50.93 in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, shed $1.01 to $53.93 a barrel in London. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.64 a gallon, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.54 a gallon and natural gas fell 2 cents to $3.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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