Update on the latest business


Associated Press

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 4:02 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 27 at 4:02 AM


Stocks move back up

NEW YORK (AP) — The Standard & Poor's 500 index starts the day within two points of its all-time high, set on Oct. 9, 2007. It rose 12 points yesterday, closing at 1,563.77. The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest gain in three weeks, up 111 points to 14,559. The Nasdaq composite rose 17 points, to 3,252.

News of rising home prices and orders for manufactured goods drove stocks up from the opening bell.


Asian stocks follow US higher on upbeat econ data

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian markets followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday after upbeat economic data from the world's largest economy.

Reports overnight from the U.S. showed home prices rose in January at the fastest rate since the country's housing boom peaked in 2006 while February factory orders for long-lasting goods were at their highest in five months.

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index rose 0.6 percent to 22,441.75 while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 1,993.08. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.3 percent to 2,304.87 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite rose 0.3 percent to 956.04.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.7 percent to 4,985.20 while benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also rose.


Pending home sales due

WASHINGTON (AP) — A day after a flurry of economic reports, things are quieter today. The National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales index for February, 10 a.m. Eastern.


Google picks 8,000 winners of 'Glass' contest

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is starting to notify 8,000 people who will be invited to buy a test version of the company's much-anticipated Internet-connected glasses for $1,500.

The invitations are being sent to the winners of a contest conducted a month ago. Google asked U.S. residents to submit applications through Twitter or its Plus service to explain in 50 words or less how they would use a technology that is being hailed as the next breakthrough in mobile computing.

The product is called Google Glass. It's supposed to perform many of the same tasks as smartphones, except the spectacles respond to voice commands instead of fingers touching a display screen. The glasses are equipped with a hidden camera and tiny display screen attached to a rim above the right eye.


AP Source: CBS buys half of TV Guide net for $100M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A person familiar with CBS' deal for TV Guide says the broadcaster is buying a 50 percent stake in TV Guide's cable channel and website for nearly $100 million.

The price is less than what JPMorgan Chase's One Equity Partners paid for a similar stake four years ago and brings CBS Corp. into an equal partnership with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The deal terms come from a person who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

CBS says the channel, available in more than 80 million homes, will continue to focus on entertainment. Details about rebranding it will come. It will combine CBS' programming, production and marketing with Lions Gate's resources in movies, TV shows and digital content.

TV Guide magazine isn't part of the deal.


FEMA head: Federal flood insurance to cost more

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says people who buy federal flood insurance need to plan for big rate hikes. FEMA director Craig Fugate says some people now paying hundreds of dollars a year could wind up paying thousands because Congress says the program must at least pay for itself.

He said Tuesday that the increases will be phased in over three to four years.

His comments came at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans.

AUTO SHOW-CHEROKEE Jeep take radical turn with new Cherokee

DETROIT (AP) — The Jeep Cherokee is back, with a surprising design that could win some new buyers but lose some old fans.

The 2014 Cherokee midsize SUV makes its debut Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show. The remake is so radical that observers might not realize it's a Jeep.

The new Cherokee ditches Jeep's traditional boxy look for a more aerodynamic style. It replaces the brand's signature round headlights with sharply angled slits. The interior is plush and full of luxury options like automatic parallel parking. Even Jeep's seven-slat grille didn't go untouched — it's much smaller and creased in the middle to fold over the Cherokee's nose.

It's a look more reminiscent of a Honda CR-V than the model it replaces — the Liberty — and past Cherokees that helped establish Jeep as a symbol of toughness and off-road adventure.

All this isn't sitting well with some Jeep fans, who say the 72-year-old brand is straying too far from its rugged, utilitarian roots. They bemoan the new styling and softer ride, saying it's more suited for a trip to the mall than the Rubicon trail.


Wal-Mart tests new marketing device for orders

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will be testing this summer an option for consumers to be able to order product on its website and then have it kept in a physical locker at the store so they can pick it up without having to wait in line or talk to a store clerk.

The test, which will be conducted in about a dozen stories in an undisclosed market, is part of the world's largest retailer's overall strategy to offer increasingly demanding web-savvy shoppers the ability to shop any way they want. The company is also expanding its offerings online and improving a new "scan and go" shopping app so customers can immediately download coupons personalized to them.

Officials disclosed the moves Tuesday at a media event at its company's global e-commerce offices in San Bruno, Calif., located in Silicon Valley.

The six-story offices, which house more than 1,000 employees ranging from engineers to merchandisers, includes (at)WalmartLabs, where many of the shopping innovations are coming from. It was formerly a webs analytics company called Kosmix which the discounter purchased in 2011 and then renamed (at)WalmartLabs.


Panera trying new pay-what-you-want experiment

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Order a bowl of turkey chili at a St. Louis-area Panera Bread and it'll cost you a penny. Or $5. Or $100. In other words, whatever you decide.

Three years after launching the first of five pay-what-you-want cafes, the suburban St. Louis-based chain brings the concept to its latest charitable venture starting Wednesday.

The new idea experiments with a single item, Turkey Chili in a Bread Bowl, available in a trial run at 48 St. Louis-area cafes for whatever customers choose to pay. The suggested $5.89 price (tax included) is only a guideline. All other menu items are sold for the posted price.

Panera calls it the Meal of Shared Responsibility. Above-the-cost proceeds go to cover meals for customers who cannot pay full price and to St. Louis-area hunger initiatives.

FIANCIAL HEALTH-EUROPE Europe's financial crisis leads to suicide surge

LONDON (AP) — The harsh spending cuts introduced by European governments to tackle their crippling debt problems have not only pitched the region into recession — they are also being partly blamed for outbreaks of diseases not normally seen in Europe and a spike in suicides, according to new research.

Since the crisis first struck in 2008, state-run welfare and health services across Europe have seen their budgets cut, medical treatments rationed and unpopular measures such as hospital user fees introduced.

Those countries that have slashed public spending the hardest — namely Greece, Spain and Portugal — have fared the worst medically.

"Austerity measures haven't solved the economic problems and they have also created big health problems," said Martin McKee, a professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the research.