Business News

Apr 20, 6:00 PM EDT

Business Highlights


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A small victory for fliers: summer domestic fares fall $2.01

After years of steadily-rising airfare, travelers this summer can expect a tiny bit of relief - $2.01 in savings to be exact.

The average roundtrip domestic ticket this summer, including taxes, now stands at $454, down less than a percent from last summer. Vacationers to Europe will fare better with the average ticket down 3 percent to $1,619, about $50 less than last summer.

Not all travelers will get to save.

Flights to Hawaii, Florida and New Orleans are cheaper, but travelers heading to New York, Denver and San Francisco can expect to pay more.

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5 years after BP spill: What's changed in offshore drilling

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - As oil gushed from BP's ruptured well five years ago and public outrage built by the day, the Obama administration issued a six-month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

When the well was finally capped after nearly three months, political and industry pressure mounted on the White House to lift the ban, which it did about a month earlier than planned.

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Running out of time: Limited-time deals can be limiting

NEW YORK (AP) - Target shoppers found out this weekend that when stores make deals to carry merchandise from high-end designers for a limited time, it can be, well, really limiting.

The discounter partnered with the Lilly Pulitzer brand to carry a collection of 250 pieces for a fraction of the price of the Palm Beach designer's original merchandise. But the line, which included $38 pink shift dresses and $25 beach towels, was wrought with long lines in stores, quick sellouts online and other problems.

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Global, Chinese automakers debut new car models

SHANGHAI (AP) - Ford showed off its new Taurus and Nissan unveiled a midsize sedan designed for China on Monday at a Shanghai Auto Show that highlighted the commercial resurgence of lower-priced Chinese auto brands.

Competition in China is intensifying as economic growth slows and more manufacturers pile into the world's biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold. Global automakers are spending heavily to appeal to Chinese tastes and local brands are rolling out lower-cost versions of SUVs and other popular vehicles.

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Volcker says US bank oversight ineffective, seeks overhaul

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is calling for a reshaping of the U.S. financial oversight regime, which he says is splintered and ineffective.

A public policy group led by Volcker issued a report Monday on the regulation of banks and Wall Street. It says the array of government agencies that oversee the financial system has changed little since the Depression-era 1930s and can't keep up with a fast-moving industry. It calls for a simpler setup.

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Survey: US businesses expect sales rebound, more hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. businesses expect their sales will rebound in the next three months after a sluggish first quarter, and they also plan to boost hiring and pay, according to a survey released Monday.

Just 49 percent of firms said their sales increased in the first three months of the year from last year's fourth quarter. That's down from 54 percent that reported higher sales in the last survey, in January.

Yet companies are much more bullish about the April through June quarter. Nearly three-quarters of companies forecast higher sales over the next three months, up from 68 percent in January and just 54 percent in October.

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Labor group seeks rehiring of workers at 5 Wal-Mart stores

NEW YORK (AP) - A union is asking labor regulators to go to court to force Wal-Mart to rehire all 2,200 employees affected by the abrupt temporary closing of five stores a week ago.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, arguing the closings were retaliation for labor activism. Wal-Mart says it closed the stores to fix plumbing issues.

One affected store, in Pico Rivera, California, has been a hotbed for worker protests against Wal-Mart. It was the first store to wage such protests, in October 2012. The other stores are in Midland and Livingston, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Brandon, Florida.

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Bristol-Myers: 2 cancer drugs beat 1 against melanoma

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Giving patients with advanced melanoma two Bristol-Myers drugs that work differently held the deadly skin cancer at bay far longer than just one, though the combination's considerable increase in serious side effects raises concerns about how much patients can endure.

A study of 142 patients not treated previously found combining Yervoy and Opdivo, which mobilize the body's immune system to target cancer cells, greatly boosted survival over giving Yervoy alone. The company said the combo also was better than Opdivo alone, based on a prior study.

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Halliburton says has cut 9,000 jobs in wake of oil's drop

HOUSTON (AP) - Halliburton Co. has cut 9,000 jobs - more than 10 percent of its workforce - in about six months and is considering more cost-cutting moves as falling oil prices sap demand for its drilling help.

Halliburton executives disclosed the job cuts Monday on a conference call with investors. The Houston oilfield-services company reported a loss of $643 million in the first quarter.

Oil prices plunged starting last summer, leading to a decline in drilling activity. Spot prices for crude have risen slightly since early January but remain about half their level of last July.

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Cardinal Health paying $26.8 million in FTC settlement

NEW YORK (AP) - Cardinal Health will pay $26.8 million as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over charges it monopolized the sale in 25 markets of diagnostic drugs known as low-energy radiopharmaceuticals.

The charges allege that the pharmaceutical and medical-products distributor forced hospitals and clinics to pay inflated prices for the drugs, used to diagnose a range of conditions, including heart disease.

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Cirque du Soleil sells majority stake to private equity

TORONTO (AP) - The founder of the Cirque Du Soleil said Monday he is giving up the majority stake in his circus troupe that has wowed audiences worldwide for 30 years and propelled him from street performer to billionaire.

What was once a small troupe of vagabonds has grown to a 4,000-person operation headquartered in Montreal that will now be controlled by the U.S. private equity firm TPG.

Cirque founder Guy Laliberte told a news conference in Montreal that he has signed a deal to sell a majority stake to TPG for an undisclosed price. He will maintain a 10 percent stake in the business and continue to provide strategic and creative input to the company.

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Kraft Mac & Cheese shedding the dyes

NEW YORK (AP) - This is the last year that the original version of Kraft Mac & Cheese sold in the U.S. will contain artificial preservatives or synthetic colors.

In January, Kraft says its macaroni and cheese will be colored using paprika, annatto and turmeric.

There has been a huge shift away from processed foods in the U.S. and larger food producers are trying to follow their customers in that direction.

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ESPN says Verizon's new FiOS TV packages violate agreements

NEW YORK (AP) - Breaking up the cable-TV bundle won't be easy.

ESPN is objecting to how Verizon is giving its FiOS TV customers more choice. In new plans that went into effect Sunday, Verizon made the ESPN and ESPN2 sports channels optional, but ESPN says its contracts with Verizon prohibit the channels from being in a separate sports package.

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Japan, US talks seeking compromise on farm, auto trade

TOKYO (AP) - Japan's top trade negotiator met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Monday, seeking to resolve differences on autos and farm exports that are hindering progress toward a Pacific Rim trade deal.

Economy minister Akira Amari, Japan's top trade negotiator, sought to keep expectations low.

Amari said that the two sides were still trying to resolve differences over removing trade barriers in key areas. Japan wants greater market opening for its exports of autos and auto parts. The U.S. hopes to export more rice, pork and other farm products to Japan.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 208.63 points, or 1.2 percent, to 18,034. 93. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 19.22 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,100.40. The Nasdaq composite climbed 62.79 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,994.60.

The price of U.S. crude oil increased 64 cents to close at $56.38 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, was unchanged at $63.45 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.6 cents to close at $1.932 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.5 cent to close at $1.877 a gallon. Natural gas fell 9.8 cents to close at $2.536 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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