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Business Highlights

February 3, 2015


Coke bets on ‘premium milk’ to boost declining category

NEW YORK (AP) — Coke is coming out with premium milk that has more protein and less sugar than regular. And it’s betting people will pay twice as much for it.

The national rollout of Fairlife over the next several weeks marks Coca-Cola’s entry into the milk case in the U.S.

It’s one way the world’s biggest beverage maker is diversifying its offerings as Americans continue turning away from soft drinks.


Is S&P’s $1.38B deal enough to keep credit raters in check?

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than six years after the financial crisis struck, credit rating giant Standard & Poor’s will be paying a hefty $1.38 billion penalty for its role in fueling the subprime mortgage meltdown. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again.

S&P’s settlement announced Tuesday with the U.S. government, 19 states and the District of Columbia marks a public chastening of a major credit rating agency accused of knowingly overrating toxic mortgages that ignited the crisis.

S&P and its competitors are crucial gatekeepers that can affect a company’s or government’s ability to raise or borrow money. In the aftermath of the crisis, federal regulators have imposed some changes on how the rating agencies conduct business.


Groupon founder takes a detour with new audio tour app

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two years ago, Andrew Mason faced an unexpected detour when he was ousted as CEO from the online discount site he founded, Groupon.

Now the tech executive’s back on the entrepreneurial path, with an iPhone app selling unconventional audio tours of major cities. It’s called — you guessed it — Detour.

Seven different San Francisco expeditions, released Tuesday, meander from the city’s beatnik bars to the weathered docks of the bay while regaling listeners with colorful tales about local lore. Each excursion costs $5.

If Detour follows the course Mason’s charting, the audio tours will span the globe within the next five years.


In Russia, creeping awareness that economic crisis will last

MOSCOW (AP) — Garage sales have long been a rarity here, where a decade of boom times has turned Russians into some of the world’s biggest gourmands and luxury shoppers.

But frugality is making a comeback. With no end in sight to Western sanctions or the painful drop in Russia’s oil revenues, there is a creeping awareness that the tough times are here to stay.

Shopping prices have jumped higher, and are expected to keep rising for months. About a fifth of Moscow’s restaurants are forecast to close this year and businesses in all sectors are planning layoffs.


What to do? Some questions and answers about measles at work

NEW YORK (AP) — A boss who’s worried about an outbreak of measles in the workplace needs to tread lightly.

Reports of a growing number of measles cases have employers wondering what they should be doing. But federal and state laws can limit their ability to require workers to be vaccinated.

And it may be risky to even ask staffers whether they’ve been vaccinated.


Corinthian students lured by job prospects get loan break

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal regulator says Corinthian College students will be forgiven a total of $480 million in loans because the for-profit school used “bogus” job prospects to persuade them to pay tuition with expensive private loans.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says tens of thousands of students received the loans, though it’s unclear how many will benefit from the forgiveness.

More than 60 percent of Corinthian students with those loans defaulted within three years after being subject to interest rates that were roughly twice the rates for federal loans.


Automakers report January US sales jumps, led by GM, Toyota

DETROIT (AP) — With low interest rates and cheaper gasoline to motivate them, and no polar vortex to keep them home, consumers went car-shopping in a big way in January.

New vehicle sales rose 14 percent to 1.15 million, according to Autodata Corp. It was the best January in nine years.

Car buyers found a few deals, but they were also attracted to popular new vehicles such as the Ford F-150 and Jeep Cherokee.

General Motors led the way with an 18 percent gain over last January. Encouraged by low gas prices, buyers snapped up GM’s big SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon.


Disney has magical 1st quarter on TV shows, parks revenue

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. posted profit and revenue that topped expectations.

Strong results from Frozen merchandise, Disney Channels, and its U.S. theme parks and resorts drove profit up 19 percent in the last three months of 2014.

Revenue from parks and resorts rose 9 percent to $3.9 billion, helped by higher attendance and customer spending at its California and Florida properties. That was in spite of a measles outbreak linked to Disney’s Southern California parks last month that now totals about 95 people.

In an interview with CNBC, CEO Bob Iger said the entertainment company saw no impact on attendance from the measles outbreak.


US factory orders dropped 3.4 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories dropped for a fifth consecutive month in December, while a key category that signals business investment plans fell for a fourth straight month.

Factory orders declined 3.4 percent in December after a 1.7 percent drop in November, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. It was the biggest drop since a 10 percent plunge in August and marked the fifth straight month that orders have fallen.

Demand in a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans edged down 0.1 percent after bigger declines in the previous three months.


Sanofi, Mannkind launch inhaled insulin called Afrezza

Hoping to appeal to millions of needle-phobic Americans with diabetes, drugmakers Sanofi and Mannkind have launched Afrezza, an insulin that’s inhaled rather than injected.

Afrezza was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last June for use in people with either Type 1 or 2 diabetes, to be used along with other medicines, diet and exercise.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 305.36 points, or 1.8 percent, to 17,666.40. The S&P 500 index climbed 29.18 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,050.03. The Nasdaq rose 51.05 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4,727.74.

The price of U.S. oil rose $3.48, or 6.1 percent, to $53.05 a barrel, its highest closing price this year. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oils imported by U.S. refineries, rose $3.16, or 5.8 percent, to $57.91 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline rose 5.67 cents to $1.601 a gallon. Heating oil jumped 8.9 cents to $1.847 a gallon. Natural gas gained 7.4 cents to $2.754 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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