Business Highlights

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Updated: September 23, 2015 at 5:18 pm


Volkswagen CEO steps down, takes responsibility for scandal

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned Wednesday, days after admitting that the world's top-selling carmaker had rigged diesel emissions to pass U.S. tests during his tenure.

No replacement was announced, and VW still has no easy exit from a scandal that has suddenly dented a reputation for trustworthiness that took decades to build. The smog-test trickery has wiped out billions in VW's market value and raised the specter of criminal investigations and billions more in fines.

Winterkorn took responsibility for the "irregularities" found by U.S. inspectors in VW's diesel engines, but insisted he had personally done nothing wrong.


Volkswagen's clean-car image dirtied by emissions scandal

NEW YORK (AP) — German engineering may lose some marketing pop after Volkswagen's stunning admission that it rigged emissions tests.

The revelation is particularly damaging since Volkswagen has long pinned its reputation on its technological prowess, with the tagline, "Isn't it time for German engineering?," along with its focus on environmental sustainability.

The company apologized and the CEO stepped down, but Volkswagen has yet to explain how the cheating was allowed to occur. The company risks alienating not only fans of the "People's Car," but dealers, the local face of the brand, who feel blindsided by the scandal.


Robot revolution sweeps China's factory floors

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — In China's factories, the robots are rising.

For decades, manufacturers employed waves of young migrant workers from China's countryside to work at countless factories in coastal provinces, churning out cheap toys, clothing and electronics that helped power the country's economic ascent.

Now, factories are rapidly replacing those workers with automation, a pivot that's encouraged by rising wages and new official directives aimed at helping the country move away from low-cost manufacturing as the supply of young, pliant workers shrinks.


Ad blockers rise as ads annoy, bog down websites

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When you visit a website, you often find yourself waiting and waiting for advertisements to load. Video starts playing automatically, and animated ads jump in front of what you were there to see. The seconds tick by.

It doesn't have to be this way.

There are easy ways to block such annoyances, and Apple is now permitting apps that block ads in its Web browser for iPhones and iPads.

All this might help users navigate, but it also threatens the livelihood of websites and publishers that depend heavily on advertising revenue — companies like Google, Hulu and The New York Times. While the rise in ad blocking isn't causing panic yet, publishers and content creators are watching.


Millions more government fingerprints deemed stolen

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people applying for or receiving security clearances whose fingerprint images were stolen in one of the worst government data breaches is now believed to be 5.6 million, not 1.1 million as first thought, the Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday.

The agency was the victim of what the U.S. believes was a Chinese espionage operation that affected an estimated 21.5 million current and former federal employees or job applicants. The theft could give Chinese intelligence a huge leg up in recruiting informants inside the U.S. government, experts believe. It also could help the Chinese identify U.S. spies abroad, according to American officials.

The White House has said it's going to discuss cybersecurity with Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visits President Barack Obama later this week.


As eurozone economic growth plateaus, VW scandal a worry

LONDON (AP) — Economic growth across the 19-country eurozone is showing signs of slowing, according to a survey conducted before any assessment of the impact on German industry of the emissions-rigging scandal engulfing carmaker Volkswagen.

Financial information company Markit said Wednesday its monthly purchasing managers' index — a broad gauge of business activity — fell to 53.9 points in September from 54.3 the previous month. Though anything above 50 indicates expansion, the decline points to slower growth.

Markit says its survey points to quarterly growth of 0.4 percent in the third quarter, unchanged from the previous three-month period.


China inks deals worth $38 billion to buy 300 Boeing jets

HONG KONG (AP) — Boeing said Wednesday that Chinese companies have agreed to buy 300 jets and build an aircraft assembly plant in China. The deals, worth about $38 billion, were signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States.

China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, ICBC Financial Leasing and China Development Bank Leasing inked the jet purchase agreement after Xi's arrival in Seattle. Boeing said the orders were mostly for its 737 models.

State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, which is better known as Comac, also signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. plane maker to build a 737 aircraft assembly center in China. Boeing said the new facility will paint the jets and finish their interiors.


AP Interview: Finance minister says no recession in Canada

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's finance minister says Canada is not in recession now and wasn't in recession in the first half of the year despite data showing otherwise.

Joe Oliver said in an interview with The Associated Press the downturn was largely confined to the energy sector. Canada fell into a recession in the first six months of the year, dragged down by falling energy prices and economic troubles in China.

The Canadian economy retreated at an annual pace of 0.5 percent from April through June after sliding 0.8 percent the first three months of the year. Two consecutive negative quarters are the technical definition of a recession.


We're ba-aack! Shuttered stores return to life for Halloween

PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — Like something out of a horror tale, an abandoned store in this northern New Jersey city has come back to life, as a Halloween retailer.

Spirit Halloween, a chain of more than 1,150 pop-up shops across the country, has reincarnated the former Staples store and filled it with 4,000 costumes and accessories with themes ranging from zombies to superheroes and princesses to prison inmates. And gory displays: a zombie-filled subway, a swamp surrounded by bloody and screaming animated creatures.

Spirit Halloween crams a lot of business into a short time. Its staff swells from the hundreds to more than 20,000 starting in June. It makes its revenue for the year in less than three months. The Paramus store, which took six days to set up, opened Aug. 21 and closes Nov. 1.


What's hot for Halloween? Turtles, Walking Dead, superheroes

PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — Expect to see a lot of Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael this Halloween.

Some of the most popular costumes are expected to be based on the reptilian superheroes after the 2014 release of the film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," according to Steven Silverstein, CEO of Spirit Halloween, a chain of more than 1,150 pop-up stores devoted to costumes and decor for the holiday. Children love the Turtles, and so do adults who watched them on TV and in movies when they were kids, he says.

Girls are expected to choose costumes based on the Disney TV movie, "The Descendants," the story of the children of Disney characters such as Cruella De Vil and Cinderella.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 50.58 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,279.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.98 points, or 0.2 percent, to finish at 1,938.76. The Nasdaq composite fell 3.98 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,752.74.

U.S. crude fell $1.88 to close at $44.48 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.33 to close at $47.75 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 3.5 cents to close at $1.382 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2.6 cents to close at $1.506 a gallon. Natural gas was little changed at $2.569 per 1,000 cubic feet.