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Associated Press

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 7:01 PM

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AP IMPACT: Post-recession, higher education paths diverge

CHONGQING, China (AP) — Determined to learn their way out of the Great Recession — or eager to rise above the deprivation of developing lands — unprecedented millions of people have enrolled in colleges and universities around the world in the past five years.

What they're finding is an educational landscape turning upside down.

In the United States — where top schools have long championed a liberal style of learning and broad education before specialization — higher education's focus is shifting to getting students that first job in a still-shaky economy. Tuition is so high and the lingering economic distress so great that an education not directly tied to an occupation is increasingly seen as a luxury.

Elsewhere in the world, there is a growing emphasis on broader learning as an economic necessity.

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China slump, higher bond yields weigh on markets

More uncertainty about China's economy and rising bond yields led to a broad sell-off in stocks Monday, leaving the market down 5.7 percent from its all-time high last month.

It's the first pullback of 5 percent or more since November.

U.S. trading started with a slump Monday. The market recovered much of its loss, then fell back again. By the close of trading the big stock indexes were clinging to modest gains for the second quarter. The last trading day of the quarter is Friday.

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Boost for cars or bust? Ethanol debate heats up

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a dilemma for drivers: Do they choose a gasoline that's cheaper and cleaner even if, as opponents say, it could damage older cars and motorcycles?

That's the peril and promise of a high-ethanol blend of gasoline known as E15. The fuel contains 15 percent ethanol, compared with the current 10 percent norm sold at most U.S. gas stations.

The higher ethanol blend is currently sold at fewer than two dozen stations in the Midwest, but could spread to other regions as the Obama administration considers whether to require more ethanol in gasoline.

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Neiman Marcus plans to raise up to $100 million in IPO

NEW YORK (AP) — Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus plans to raise up to $100 million by returning to the stock market with an initial public offering.

That amount is likely to change, though, as bankers gauge investor interest. The plan to go public, announced in a regulatory filing Monday, comes about eight years after private equity firms TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus bought Neiman Marcus for $5.1 billion.

Neiman Marcus has benefited from affluent shoppers who are willing to drop $1,000 for a pair of shoes. During the recession, Neiman Marcus was not as hurt by the consumer spending pullback as other retailers, because the wealthy suffered less in the poor economy.

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New Samsung tablets mimic Galaxy phones

NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung is expanding its lineup of tablet computers and making them look more like its Galaxy smartphones, as it hopes to translate its success in phones to the tablet market, where Apple is dominant.

Samsung Electronics Co., the second-largest maker of tablets after Apple, on Monday said it is putting three new tablets in the Galaxy Tab 3 series on sale in the U.S. on July 7. The cheapest, a $199 device, will have a screen that measures 7 inches diagonally. An 8-inch model will go for $299 and a 10-inch one for $399.

The "Tab" line is Samsung's value brand, undercutting the price of similar Apple models. Samsung's premium tablets are in the "Note" line, which include styluses. The 7-inch and 10-inch tablets had "Tab 2" equivalents, but the 8-inch model is new, and coincides closely in size with Apple's iPad Mini, which came out late last year.

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Promise of price cut on hospital bills is in limbo

WASHINGTON (AP) — Huge list prices charged by hospitals are drawing increased attention, but a federal law meant to limit what the most financially vulnerable patients can be billed doesn't seem to be making much difference.

A provision in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul says most hospitals must charge uninsured patients no more than what people with health insurance are billed.

The goal is to protect patients from medical bankruptcy, a problem that will not go away next year when Obama's law expands coverage for millions.

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Studies find methane in Pennsylvania drinking water

PITTSBURGH (AP) — New research in Pennsylvania demonstrates that it's hard to nail down how often natural gas drilling is contaminating drinking water: One study found high levels of methane in some water wells near gas wells, while another found some serious methane pollution occurring naturally, far away from drilling.

The findings represent a middle ground between critics of the drilling technique, known as hydraulic fracturing, who claim it causes widespread contamination, and an industry that suggests contamination is rare or nonexistent.

The contamination from drilling is "not an epidemic. It's a minority of cases," said Rob Jackson, a Duke University researcher and co-author of the study released Monday. But he added the team found that serious contamination from bubbly methane is "much more" prevalent in some water wells within about half a mile of gas drilling sites.

Methane is an odorless gas that in high concentrations can be explosive and deadly.

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Dissension and fiscal woes beset the Girl Scouts

NEW YORK (AP) — Given the friction and financial woes facing the Girl Scouts these days, perhaps it's time for a giant friendship circle. Under that long-standing tradition, a ring of Scouts clasp hands and give a little squeeze, accompanied by a silent wish of good will.

Just a year after its centennial celebrations, the Girl Scouts of the USA finds itself in a different sort of squeeze. Its interconnected problems include declining membership and revenues, a dearth of volunteers, rifts between leadership and grassroots members, a pension plan with a $347 million deficit, and an uproar over efforts by many local councils to sell venerable summer camps.

The tangle of difficulties has prompted one congressman to request an inquiry by the House Ways and Means Committee into the pension liabilities and the sale of camps.

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Vodafone launches bid for Kabel Deutschland

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Vodafone PLC has launched a takeover bid for Germany's biggest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland, as part of its push to dominate media services in its biggest market.

The British cellphone company with wide international interests on Monday confirmed the 7.7 billion euros ($10.2 billion) deal.

Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said the deal aims to tap growing German demand for fast broadband and data services.

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Ousted Men's Wearhouse exec. chairman quits board

NEW YORK (AP) — Ousted Men's Wearhouse founder George Zimmer has quit the company's board.

Zimmer was fired as the company's executive chairman last week. On Monday he submitted a letter resigning from the board.

Zimmer said in the letter that it's clear from his firing that the board is determined to avoid addressing his growing concerns with recent board decisions and the company's direction.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 139.84 points, or 0.9 percent, at 14,659.56. The S&P 500 index fell 19.34 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,573.09. The Nasdaq dropped 36.49 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,320.76.

Benchmark oil for August delivery rose $1.49 to close at $95.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries to make gasoline, rose 25 cents to finish at $101.16 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline lost 2 cents to end at $2.74 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to finish at $2.85 per gallon. Natural gas slipped 3 cents to finish at $3.74 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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