Business Highlights

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Updated: November 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm


Smartphones overtake desktops for holiday shopping

NEW YORK (AP) — If the beginning of the holiday season is any indication, it could be a merry mobile Christmas for shoppers.

For the first time, there's expected to be more people visiting retailers' web sites through their smartphones than on desktop computers or tablets during the first weekend of the holiday shopping season that begins on Thanksgiving Day.

Mobile traffic during the five-day start to what is typically the busiest shopping period of the year is expected to reach 56.9 percent of total traffic, up from 48.5 percent last year, according to IBM Watson.


AP Interview: Coke exec on 'adversarial' ties with critics

NEW YORK (AP) — Coke says it wants to mend relations with critics of its sugary drinks.

Sandy Douglas, president of Coke North America, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Coke is hoping to change its "adversarial" relationship with public health advocates.

The phone interview took place Nov. 17, after Coca-Cola Co. learned the AP had obtained emails between the company and leaders of the Global Energy Balance Network, which was founded to fight obesity. In an AP report, emails show Coke was instrumental in shaping the group — helping pick its leaders, editing its mission statement and suggesting content for the group's website


Signs of steady US economy: Rising pay and solid job market

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans' pay is up, fewer people need unemployment aid, more are buying new homes and business spending is rebounding.

A flurry of data released Wednesday signaled that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain solid, if unspectacular, three weeks before the Federal Reserve will likely begin raising interest rates.

Consumers appear relatively confident in the economy and may be poised to spend a decent chunk of their rising incomes during the holiday shopping season. In addition, businesses are stepping up their investment in machinery and equipment, removing a persistent drag on the economy.


Yahoo's CEO is running out of time to turn things around

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Marissa Mayer's nearly four-year attempt to turn around Yahoo needs a turnaround itself, repeating a pattern of futility that has hobbled one of the Internet's best-known companies for the past decade.

Like her predecessors as Yahoo CEO, Mayer has been unable to snap the company out of a financial funk despite spending billions on acquisitions and new projects. Yahoo's stock has sunk by 35 percent so far this year as investors' frustration with the follies have mounted, spurring calls for her replacement.


Average US rate on 30-year mortgage slides to 3.95 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates slipped this week after they rose recently on expectations that the Federal Reserve may soon raise its key short-term interest rate.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Wednesday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped to 3.95 percent from 3.97 percent a week earlier. The key 30-year rate was nearly unchanged from its level of a year ago, 3.97 percent. But the average has increased over the past months from 3.76 at the end of October.

The average on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged at 3.18 percent.


Turing reneges on drug price cut, rival's version sells well

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — After weeks of criticism from patients, doctors and even other drugmakers for hiking a life-saving medicine's price more than fifty-fold, Turing Pharmaceuticals is reneging on its pledge to cut the $750-per-pill price.

Instead, the small biotech company says it's reducing the price for hospitals by up to 50 percent for its Daraprim, which treats a rare parasitic infection that mainly strikes pregnant women and HIV patients.

The 62-year-old drug had no competition until a furor over the gigantic price hike erupted, triggering multiple government investigations.

Then a pharmacy that compounds prescription drugs for individual patients stepped in and started selling a capsule version for 99 cents. Imprimis Pharmaceuticals says orders are pouring in from doctors and it says it has dispensed more than 2,500 capsules in barely a month.


Travelers take to the roads and the skies for Thanksgiving

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The big Thanksgiving getaway went into full swing Wednesday with drivers delighted by the lowest November gas prices in years and many airline passengers undaunted by terrorism fears and long lines at security checkpoints.

Nearly 47 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. That's the most travelers since 2007, a rise attributed to an improving economy and the cheapest gasoline for this time of year since 2008.


Number of people in latest E. coli outbreak expected to grow

SEATTLE (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of people affected by an E. coli outbreak linked to Costco chicken salad will likely grow over the next few weeks, even though the product has been removed from store shelves.

The agency said Wednesday the spread of foodborne illness takes time to track, especially when it's happening in multiple states. The CDC has already identified a DNA fingerprint of the E. coli strain that connects all 19 ill people. Five of those people have been hospitalized, including two with kidney failure.


Toyota recalls vehicles in Japan, Europe for air bag defect

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 1.6 million vehicles for defective air bags supplied by embattled Japanese manufacturer Takata Corp.

The recall includes 22 models sold in Japan, including the Corolla and Vitz, manufactured from January 2004 through December 2005, as well as vehicles in Italy, Britain and Spain, although those numbers were still unclear. It doesn't include any vehicles in the U.S.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force, sending out shrapnel. At least eight people have been killed worldwide and hundreds injured.


Union cancels strikes at Lufthansa

BERLIN (AP) — A strike at Germany's flagship airline, Lufthansa, has been averted after a cabin crew union announced it would hold further negotiations with the company.

The cabin crew union said Wednesday that it would cancel previously announced walkouts for Thursday, Friday and Monday. The union for flight attendants said there would be further talks leading up to a so-called jobs summit with Lufthansa on Dec. 2.

Earlier in November, the union went on strike for a week, causing the cancellation of 4,700 flights affecting some 550,000 passengers.


Signed editions of Harper Lee novel offered for $1,500

NEW YORK (AP) — How much is a signed Harper Lee novel worth? Her publisher is offering a special edition of "Go Set a Watchman" for $1,500.

HarperCollins Publishers announced Wednesday that 500 collector's editions are available. The volumes are leather bound with gold foil stamping, inside a velvet-lined cloth box. HarperCollins tells The Associated Press that Lee, 89 years old and in frail condition, signed the books over the past few months.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average added 1.20 points, less than 0.1 percent, to close at 17,813.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 0.27 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 2,088.87. The Nasdaq composite index edged up 13.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,116.14.

The price of U.S. crude rose 17 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $43.04 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, picked up 5 cents to $46.17 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 0.6 cents to $1.396 a gallon. Heating oil inched up 0.3 cents to $1.403 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.6 cents to $2.206 per 1,000 cubic feet.