Jan 19, 5:33 PM EST

Business Highlights


US oil output is booming and seen outpacing Saudis, Russia

PARIS (AP) - A global energy agency says that U.S. oil production is growing quickly and is forecast to top that of heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Russia this year. The International Energy Agency says in its monthly market report that U.S. oil production, which has already risen to its highest level in nearly 50 years, will push past 10 million barrels a day as higher prices entice more producers to start pumping.


Maybe next time: Cities see failed Amazon bids as trial runs

DETROIT (AP) - For 200-plus cities knocked out of the running for Amazon's second headquarters, the effort may turn out to be trial runs for other opportunities. Several leaders whose proposals didn't make the cut say the time spent putting together juicy tax incentives, massive chunks of land and infrastructure studies was not wasted. But an economist cautioned cities about offering other companies the same incentives they were prepared to offer Amazon.


Anti-smoking plan may kill cigarettes--and save Big Tobacco

WASHINGTON (AP) - The first steps that could one day make smoking an obsolete habit get underway next week. U.S. regulators will hold a public meeting about a device that heats a Marlboro-branded tobacco, but doesn't burn it. It's part of a delicate plan that would drastically cut nicotine levels in cigarettes and allow lower-risk products for those who can't or won't quit. It's a thorny proposition because it offers a role for the tobacco industry in the effort to eliminate the diseases caused by smoking.


Shutdown deadline nears; no accord in Trump-Schumer meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer met Friday afternoon in an eleventh-hour effort to avert a government shutdown - but they reached no agreement. Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the White House were already trading blame for the possible shutdown just hours before the midnight deadline.


Facebook to emphasize 'trustworthy' news

MENLO PARK, Calif. - Facebook is announcing a second major tweak to its algorithm, saying it will prioritize news based on survey results of trustworthiness. The company says it is surveying users about their familiarity with and trust in news sources. Facebook announced last week that it would try to have users see fewer posts from publishers, businesses and celebrities. It has struggled to deal with fake news on its platform and Russian-linked content meant to influence the 2016 U.S. elections.


SEC letter shows bitcoin funds won't happen soon, if ever

NEW YORK (AP) - Federal regulators have a long list of questions and concerns they want answered before they'll approve a digital currency fund for Main Street investors. Among the concerns: How would funds calculate a fair value for volatile digital currencies, and what steps would the funds take to ensure that investors can easily cash out their shares?


US government proposes new rules for hog slaughter

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Government regulators are proposing changes Friday in the way most hogs slaughtered for meat in the United States are processed. The new rules would allow hog slaughter plants to voluntarily join a new proposed inspection system that would put plant employees in charge of determining which animals are unfit for processing. Critics say the proposals could imperil food safety, but officials insist they will improve industry practices.


Tourism booming in Cuba despite tougher new Trump policy

HAVANA (AP) - President Donald Trump drew cheers from a Cuban-American crowd last summer when he announced that he was rolling back some of Barack Obama's opening to Cuba in order to starve the island's military-run economy of U.S. tourism dollars and ratchet up pressure for regime change. That doesn't appear to be happening. The number of visitors rose last year, and more tourism dollars seem to be funneling to Cuba's state sector and away from private business.


Quarles lays out road map for bank regulations

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve's top official on financial regulation is putting forward a wide-ranging agenda for improving the way the nation's banks are regulated. Randal Quarles says he wants to focus on "efficiency, transparency and simplicity" in bank regulations.


Coke aims to recycle a bottle for each it sells by 2030

NEW YORK (AP) - Coca-Cola announced long-term recycling goals Friday, including attempting to recycle a bottle or can for every beverage it sells by 2030. The soda maker and other consumer products companies have been under pressure from customers and environmental advocates to stop using plastic packaging, and fast-food giant McDonald's unveiled new recycling goals of its own just this week.


US stocks close higher as market sets latest record high

NEW YORK (AP) - Investors shrugged off the potential for a federal government shutdown Friday, driving U.S. stocks higher and reaching new milestones for several of the indexes. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, Nasdaq composite and Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks finished with record highs. Retailers, banks and consumer goods companies accounted for much of the latest gains. Energy stocks fell along with crude oil prices. Bond yields hit their highest level in more than three years.


The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 12.27 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,810.30. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 53.91 points, or 0.2 percent, to 26,071.72. The Nasdaq added 40.33 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,336.38. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 20.90 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,597.63.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 58 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $63.37 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 70 cents, or 1 percent, to close at $68.61 a barrel. In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.86 a gallon. Heating oil was little changed at $2.06 a gallon. Natural gas also closed essentially flat at $3.19 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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