Update on the latest in business:


Associated Press

Posted on May 3, 2013 at 4:02 AM

Updated Friday, May 3 at 4:02 AM


Better jobs news lifts stock prices

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market is all about jobs this week.

Stocks rose yesterday after unemployment claims fell to a five-year low. A day earlier it was just the opposite; the market slumped after payroll processor ADP said companies added just 119,000 jobs in April, the fewest in seven months.

Stocks could swing again today when the government's closely watched monthly employment report is released.

Signs of increased hiring have supported this year's surge in stocks and pushed the market to record highs. The run-up has started to falter in recent weeks on concerns that the global economy is slowing. More jobs should boost consumer spending.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 130 points to 14,831 on Thursday, an increase of 0.9 percent. The index lost 138 points a day earlier. The S&P 500 climbed nearly 15 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,597, also recovering almost all of its losses from a day earlier.

Gains for technology companies helped push the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite higher. The index advanced 41 1/2 points, or 1.3 percent, to 3,340.


Asia stocks rise on US jobs data

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets rose today, finding renewed strength from a fall in U.S. jobless benefit claims and an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank intended to boost the region's ebbing economy.

Investors jittery over the state of the U.S. economy took heart from a U.S. Labor Department report that said applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in more than four years. That calmed fears that intensified Wednesday following the release of reports showing lackluster hiring and factory output.

Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

Benchmark crude oil fell but remained near $94 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro but rose against the yen.


Major economic reports due out today

WASHINGTON — Among the economic reports due out today are two from the government that could be big market movers. The Labor Department releases employment data for April. And the Commerce Department reports on factory orders for March.

Also today, the Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for April.

In overseas news that could affect the markets, the European Union reveals its spring forecast for its troubled economy.


April report to show whether weak hiring persisted

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most analysts say the employment data due out Friday will show an uptick in job creation last month over March's meager 88,000, but it won't be a big increase.

The data could be an indicator of whether weak hiring in March marked a temporary lull or the fourth year in which a slumping economy has slowed job growth.

Economists say they think employers added more than 100,000 jobs in April but far fewer than the 196,000 that were added on average from September through February.

The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at a still-high 7.6 percent.

The Labor Department will release the report at 8:30 a.m. EDT.


B&N to add Google Play app store to its Nook HD

NEW YORK (AP) — Barnes & Noble is teaming up with Google to vastly increase the number of apps available on its Nook HD tablets.

The bookstore chain says it will add Google's Play app store to its Nook HD and HD+ products via a software update on Friday. The move expands the number of apps available from the roughly 10,000 the Nook already offered in its own store to 700,000-plus apps and games offered on Google Play. And it comes after a weak holiday sales season for the Nook, which is struggling to gain market share.

Barnes & Noble Inc., based in New York, has invested heavily in its Nook e-book readers and a digital library as more readers shift to electronic books and competition has grown from discount stores and online rivals.


Kraft's profit beats Wall Street expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — Kraft Foods reported first-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations as it increased sales and cut costs following its split from its global snack business.

The company, based in Northfield, Ill., makes products such as Oscar Mayer and Jell-O. It split from Mondelez, which took brands including Oreo, so that each could focus on a more narrow mix of products.

For the quarter, Kraft Foods Group Inc. earned $456 million, or 76 cents per share. That's down from $483 million, or 82 cents per share, a year ago when it paid less in interest and other expenses.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $4.55 billion.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 63 cents per share on revenue of $4.49 billion.

The company stood by its outlook for the year.


NY biotech financier gets prison for stock scheme

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge in New York City displayed anger as she handed down a four-year prison sentence to a biotechnology financier who was once among the nation's wealthiest people.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon repeatedly scolded David Blech (blehk) Thursday while imposing the prison term and $1.3 million forfeiture. When he asked for leniency, she told Blech he'd gotten "all the mercy you're going to get."

The judge called Blech a "serial stock manipulator." He engaged in the same scheme in 2007 and 2008 as he had 20 years earlier. In that instance, he cooperated with the government and received probation rather than jail time.

His fall from prosperity came in the spring of 1994 when the value of biotechnology stocks collapsed.

Blech was told to report to prison in August.


Delta, American match United on change-fee hike

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are matching United's increase in the fee for changing a domestic-flight reservation to $200 from $150.

With US Airways having matched the increase last week, all four of the so-called legacy airlines have raised the cost of changing a ticket.

United Continental Holdings has said that it incurs costs when a customer changes a reservation and the higher fee compensates for the cost.

Southwest Airlines does not charge a change fee, but it recently announced a new policy on no-shows. Passengers on the cheapest tickets will have to cancel a reservation before departure, otherwise they won't be able to apply credit from the missed flight toward a later trip.

Major U.S. airlines have increased revenue from extra fees in recent years, saying that customers should pay extra for extra services.


Taco Bell says new value menu may come soon

NEW YORK (AP) — Taco Bell says its new value menu may go national in coming months.

The fast-food chain had already said in January that it was testing a "$1 Cravings" menu that would replace its "Why Pay More" menu, which has tiered pricing.

In a call with reporters Thursday, executives at the chain said they're confident they've struck on the right mix of products for a national rollout this year. But they declined to specify a date.

The latest iteration of the $1 Cravings menu has 12 items, including new offerings such as shredded chicken mini quesadillas.

Fast-food chains have been focusing on value at a time when the industry is barely growing. McDonald's is touting its Dollar Menu, and Burger King is highlighting more deals.


Kaiser workers to stay in service employees union

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of workers at health care giant Kaiser Permanente have voted again to remain with the Service Employees International Union rather than switch to a smaller rival.

The National Labor Relations Board says Kaiser workers in California voted 58.4 percent to 40.6 percent in favor of the 1.9-million-member SEIU over the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

The vote was a replay of an election from nearly three years ago. But the previous result -- which SEIU also won -- was thrown out after federal officials said SEIU committed violations.

The new union was launched by former SEIU leaders who were ousted from the larger union in a bitter power struggle. Both unions have spent millions battling over about 45,000 Kaiser workers. It was the largest union election since the 1940s.


Australia plans to buy 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia intends to buy 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler advanced electronic warfare technology aircraft.

The government announced last year that its air force will equip 12 of Australia's F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters with Growler radar-jamming equipment and other gear to knock out a wide array of electronic devices from 2018.

The reviewed defense strategy released Friday says the government now plans to buy 12 new Growlers and to keep Australia's existing 24 Super Hornets as they are.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith says the Growlers will cost around $1.5 billion.

Australia plans to buy 14 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for $3.2 billion and is contracted to buy two for delivery in 2014 and 2015.

The Joint Strike Fighters are to replace the Growlers and Super Hornets which are expected to be retired around 2030.