Update on the latest business

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Associated Press

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 4:01 AM

WALL STREET

NEW YORK (AP) — Dampened by a report showing contraction in manufacturing, stocks closed lower Monday.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 60 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 12,966.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 7 points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 1,409.

The Nasdaq composite dropped 8 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,002.

WORLD MARKETS

Asia stocks down

BANGKOK (AP) — A weaker-than-expected U.S. manufacturing report sent Asian stock markets down Tuesday.

U.S. manufacturing shrank in November to its weakest level since July 2009.

A trade group says one reason for the downturn is that businesses are concerned about the so-called fiscal cliff. Worries about automatic tax increases cut demand for factory orders and manufacturing jobs.

Benchmark crude oil fell below $89 per barrel. The dollar rose against the euro but fell against the yen.

ECONOMY_DAY AHEAD

Business events scheduled for Tuesday

UNDATED (AP) — On today's calendar, finance ministers from the 27 European Union countries meet in Brussels to discuss banking regulation.

Elsewhere, Spain releases unemployment figures for November.

AUTO SALES

Storm delays lift already strong US auto sales

DETROIT (AP) — Superstorm Sandy gave an added push to already strong U.S. auto sales last month. But carmakers warn uncertainty over the "fiscal cliff" could hurt sales.

Most major companies, from Toyota to Chrysler, posted impressive increases from a year earlier. Only General Motors was left struggling to explain its 3-percent sales gain and large inventory of unsold trucks.

Americans were already willing to buy a new car or truck last month because they're more confident in the economy. Home values are rising, hiring is up and auto financing is readily available. Also, the average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads is approaching a record 11 years, so many people are looking to replace older cars.

Sandy boosted demand. Ford estimates that the storm added 20,000 to 30,000 sales industry wide in November, mostly from people who planned to buy cars during the October storm but had to delay their purchases. People who need to replace storm-damaged vehicles are expected to drive sales for several more months. GM estimates that 50,000 to 100,000 vehicles will eventually need to be replaced.

Luxury cars saw their usual yearend surge as holiday commercials crowd the airwaves. Porsche's sales rose 71 percent to 3,865, a record month for the automaker. Infiniti, Acura, BMW and Lexus all reported big gains.

Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell says luxury brands have historically targeted their customers at this time of year because of holiday bonuses. That's no longer a driving factor, she says, but it's still a good time of year for people to buy 2012 model-year luxury vehicles because dealers are trying to clear them out.

NEWS CORP-SPLIT

News Corp.'s new media co. to be named Fox Group

NEW YORK (AP) — News Corp. says its new publishing company will keep the News Corp. name, while its separate media and entertainment company will be renamed Fox Group.

The conglomerate announced plans this summer to split into two public companies, one for its newspaper and book publishing business and the other for its fast-growing movie and TV operations. Rupert Murdoch will serve as chairman of the new News Corp. and chairman and CEO of Fox Group.

The new News Corp. will parent newspapers The Wall Street Journal and New York Post as well as Dow Jones Newswires. Fox Group will include 20th Century Fox film and television studios and the Fox TV channels among other properties.

The company named Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson as CEO of the new News Corp. He's set to begin his work on Jan. 1. Chase Carey will serve as president and chief operating officer of Fox Group. James Murdoch will stay on as deputy chief operating officer of Fox Group.

As part of the changes, News Corp. said it will cease publication of The Daily, its iPad news application, on Dec. 15.

NY TIMES-BUYOUTS

NY Times looks to cut 30 jobs, offers buyouts

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times is looking to cut costs and is offering buyouts to some of its staffers.

The newspaper reports that the company is looking for 30 managers who aren't in the union to take the buyouts.

Jill Abramson, executive editor of The Times, says in a letter to staff that the newsroom had grown back to the size it was in 2003 with 1,150 people and had to be cut.

The date to decide whether to take a severance package is Jan. 24.

Abramson says layoffs would be necessary if enough savings weren't reached through voluntary buyouts.

MEDICAL DEVICES-FDA INITIATIVE

FDA pledges support for med tech initiative

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration says it will work with medical device manufacturers on a public-private partnership designed to speed up the development of new medical technology.

The agency says it hopes to offer guidance to the Medical Device Innovation Consortium, a new industry-backed group that aims to simplify the design and testing of medical devices.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg notes that many medical device companies are small businesses and don't have the research budgets to find more effective ways of testing their products. She said the new group would pull information and ideas from industry, government and academia.

The agency's pledge follows criticism from device industry advocates, who have lobbied Capitol Hill for more than a year to fix an FDA review process which they say is forcing some companies out of business.

Medical device makers have criticized the FDA for an overly burdensome system of reviewing devices, which they claim slows down development of important new therapies. They point to some device companies that are launching their products in Europe first, although experts agree the bar for approval is lower overseas.

DISNEY-MILLIONAIRE LAWSUIT

Court upholds $319M verdict in 'Millionaire' case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a $319 million verdict over profits from the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and has rejected a request by Walt Disney Co. for a new trial.

A jury decided in 2010 that Disney hid the show's profits from its creators, London-based Celador International.

The ruling Monday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found no issues with the verdict. It also determined there were no issues with the judge's rulings in the case.

Celador Chairman Paul Smith praised the ruling in a statement. Disney did not immediately comment.

Celador filed the lawsuit in 2004, and the judgment was entered after a trial that featured testimony from top Disney executives.

MITT ROMNEY-MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL

Mitt Romney rejoins Marriott board

NEW YORK (AP) — Former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is rejoining Marriott International's board of directors.

He's held the post with the hotel chain twice before. The first time was from 1993 to 2002, when he left to campaign for governor of Massachusetts, and from 2009 to 2011, when he left to start his campaign for the presidency.

It's the first such announcement from Romney since he lost the election to President Barack Obama. Romney has kept a low profile since the election, spending the past month largely in seclusion at his family's California home.

Romney has been connected to the Marriott dynasty all of his life. He was named after J.W. Marriott. Romney's full name is Willard Mitt Romney and Marriott's was John Willard Marriott. Marriott, who founded the company in 1927, was close friends with Romney's father.

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