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Associated Press

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 2:01 AM

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As US default nears, investors shrug off threat

NEW YORK (AP) — Warren Buffett likens it to a nuclear attack. Economists warn that government spending on programs like Social Security would plunge. The Treasury says the economy would slide into a recession worse than the last.

Yet you wouldn't know that a U.S. debt default could amount to a nightmare from the way many companies and investors are preparing for it: They aren't. The assumption seems to be that in the end, Washington will find a way to avert a default.

Brian Doe, a wealth adviser at Gratus Capital Management in Atlanta, has 35 clients who've entrusted him with $50 million for safekeeping. He isn't losing sleep over a potential default. Neither are his clients, apparently. Not one has called him about the issue, he said.

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3 US economists win Nobel for work on asset prices

Ordinary investors don't stand much chance of beating the market. It moves way too fast and efficiently. Or it behaves in ways that make no sense at all.

Three Americans won the Nobel prize in economics Monday for their sometimes-contradictory insights into the complexities of investing.

Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago and Robert Shiller of Yale University were honored for shedding light on the forces that move stock, bond and home prices — findings that have transformed how people invest.

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Poll: Half of older workers delay retirement plans

CHICAGO (AP) — There was a time when Tom Sadowski thought he'd stop working after turning 65 earlier this year. But he's put off retirement for at least five years — and now anticipates continuing to do some work afterward.

In an illuminating sign of changing times and revised visions of retirement, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Monday finds older Americans like Sadowski not only are delaying their retirement plans, they're also embracing the fact that it won't necessarily mark a complete exit from the workforce.

Some 82 percent of workers 50 and older say it is at least somewhat likely they will work for pay in retirement. And 47 percent of them now expect to retire later than they previously thought — on average nearly three years beyond their estimate when they were 40. Men, racial minorities, parents of minor children, those earning less than $50,000 a year and those without health insurance were more likely to put off their plans.

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Study ties chemical to possible miscarriage risk

BOSTON (AP) — New research suggests that high levels of BPA, a chemical in many plastics and canned food linings, might raise the risk of miscarriage in women prone to that problem or having trouble getting pregnant.

The work is not nearly enough to prove a link, but it adds to "the biological plausibility" that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health, said Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The study was to be presented Monday at the group's annual conference in Boston. Last month, ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attention to environmental chemicals and their potential hazards for pregnant women.

BPA, short for bisphenol-A, and certain other environmental chemicals can have very weak, hormone-like effects. Tests show BPA in nearly everyone's urine, though the chemical has been removed from baby bottles and many reusable drink containers in recent years. The federal Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe as used now in other food containers.

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Tiny Social Security hike squeezes seniors, vets

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another year, another small raise for millions of people who rely on Social Security, veterans' benefits and federal pensions.

Preliminary figures suggest next year's benefit increase will be roughly 1.5 percent, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven't gone up much in the past year.

For the second year in a row, it would be one of the lowest raises since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.

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Brokers simplify, confuse health exchange shopping

This month's glitch-filled rollout of the health insurance marketplaces created by federal law is a business opportunity for brokers and agents, but regulators warn that it also opened the door for those who would seek to line their pockets by misleading consumers.

New Hampshire's insurance commissioner sent a cease-and-desist letter last week to an Arizona company he accused of building a website to mislead health care shoppers into thinking it was the official marketplace. The site was taken down Friday.

Regulators in Washington state and Pennsylvania also have told agents to change websites that seemed likely to convince consumers they were connecting to government-run sites. Connecticut's insurance department warned agents and brokers this summer that it will take action against agents who mislead consumers or design sites to replicate the state-run exchange.

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New York Times goes global by rebranding IHT

PARIS (AP) — The New York Times Co. is rebranding its Paris-based daily, the International Herald Tribune, as the International New York Times — a bid to lure readers abroad amid the upheaval of the digital era facing traditional newspapers.

Executives say the rechristening Tuesday aims to get the most out of its brand, and complete a gradual fusion of the newspapers' editorial staffs in recent years. The Times took control of the IHT a decade ago by buying the stake of its co-owner, The Washington Post.

Worldwide subscribers to the Herald Tribune — with a print circulation of 224,000 and distribution in about 135 countries — were waking up Tuesday to a similar-looking newspaper. Novelties include a new masthead, enhanced Page 2, and opinion pieces by dozens of new international columnists.

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Ford, University of Michigan open new battery lab

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. and the University of Michigan are opening a new battery research and manufacturing lab that they hope will speed the development of batteries for electric and hybrid cars.

The center, on the university's campus in Ann Arbor, will bring together battery makers, car companies and researchers who will test new batteries for prototype vehicles.

Ted Miller, who manages battery research at Ford, said the lab will be unique in the U.S. He said that labs currently testing new battery chemistries can't produce them in the amounts or formats needed for automotive research. And battery companies aren't always sure that what they're developing could be useful to the automotive industry.

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Microsoft's phone update to feature driving mode

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is updating its Windows software for cellphones to accommodate larger devices and make it easier for motorists to reduce distractions while driving.

It's the third update to Windows Phone 8 software since the system's release a year ago. Devices with this update will start appearing in the coming weeks, and older phones will be eligible for a free upgrade, too.

Something that may appeal to motorists: a new Driving Mode will automatically silence incoming calls and texts so that you can focus on the road. You also can configure the feature to automatically send out a reply to say that you're driving.

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Macy's to open on Thanksgiving for the first time

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy's Inc. says it will open most of its stores for the first time on Thanksgiving, breaking a long-standing tradition for the venerable retailer.

In a release issued late Monday, the Cincinnati-based chain said it will open its doors at 8 p.m. on that day and will remain open for 24 hours straight until the close of business on Friday, which is usually about 10 p.m. Last year, the chain opened its doors at midnight right after the holiday. The department store chain cited increasing demand from shoppers for the earlier opening.

The move comes as Macy's faces growing pressure from rival stores and online merchants who are pushing deals on the holiday. Over the years, stores have been expanding their hours on the day after Thanksgiving to get ahead of the competition, but the kickoff is increasingly happening right after shoppers finish their turkey feast.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average added 64.15 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 15,301.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,710.14. The Nasdaq composite rose 23.40 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,815.27.

Benchmark crude for November delivery rose 39 cents to close at $102.41 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark used to price international crudes used by many U.S. refineries, was down 24 cents to $111.04 per barrel.

Wholesale gasoline remained unchanged to close at $2.67 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents to close at $3.82 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell less than a penny to close at $3.03 a gallon.

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