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Business Highlights

May 2, 2017


Lawmakers to airlines: Improve service or Congress steps in

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chief executive of United Airlines apologized Tuesday on Capitol Hill for an incident in which a passenger was dragged off a flight, calling it “a mistake of epic proportions” as frustrated lawmakers warned airline executives to improve customer service or face congressional intervention. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said carriers should use the notoriety of the violent event — and a separate incident in which a mother with a stroller was bullied by a flight attendant — to make long-needed improvements. If the airlines don’t make changes, Congress is likely to step in, Shuster and other lawmakers said.


Apple growing cash stash spurs talk of huge acquisition

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As Apple’s stash of cash grows, so does the possibility that the company will use some of the money for a huge acquisition that would expand its empire beyond iPhones and other gadgets. The guessing game primarily has focused on potential acquisitions of video streaming service Netflix and electric car maker Tesla Motors. But in recent months the takeover talk has swirled around whether Apple might do something even more dramatic by trying to buy Walt Disney Co.


Visa crackdown threatens seasonal help at US resorts

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Innkeepers, restaurateurs and landscapers around the U.S. say they are struggling to find seasonal help and turning down business in some cases because the government tightened up on visas for temporary foreign workers. At issue are H-2B temporary visas, which are issued for workers holding down seasonal, nonagricultural jobs. The U.S. caps the number at 66,000 per fiscal year. Some workers return year after year, and Congress has let them do so in the past without being counted toward the limit. No such exception was passed for 2017 at the end of last year, after the presidential election.


Pay for news? More than half of Americans say they do

NEW YORK (AP) — A battered news industry can find some flickers of hope in a survey that gauges public willingness to pay for journalism, as long as its leaders plan judiciously. A little more than half of American adults regularly pay for news, through newspaper and magazine subscriptions, apps on electronic devices or contributions to public media, according to the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.


Auto sales fall 4.7 percent.; 7-year win streak may come to end

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto sales fell 4.7 percent last month, the most pronounced slowdown of the year and a strong indication that 2017 will put an end to seven straight years of growth. Auto executives and analysts, who have been anticipating a slowdown, saw no cause for panic. Many expect sales in the important economic sector to top 17 million for the third straight year, an industry first. Still, sales have dropped for four straight months, the first time that’s happened since the economy ground to a halt in 2009. April sales totaled just over 1.4 million, a figure that translates to an annual sales rate of 16.9 million, far below last year’s record of 17.5 million. The April decline brought year-to-date sales down by 2.4 percent from a year ago.


Shakeup at Molina, CEO and CFO, sons of founder are out

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Brothers Mario and John Molina have been ousted as leaders of Molina Healthcare, the publicly traded health insurer their father founded to serve poor families. The company cited disappointing financial performance and its need to improve its operations and profits for the shake-up. Out are CEO Dr. Mario Molina, 58, who replaced his father as president and CEO in 1996, and John Molina, 52, who had served as chief financial officer since 2003.


Microsoft takes aim at Google with laptop, slim Windows

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft is taking aim at Google as it introduced a Surface device for students and slimmed down Windows for the classroom. The new Surface Laptop is the first Surface device without a detachable keyboard. Microsoft says the new laptop will have up to 14.5 hours of battery life, compared with 12 hours for the MacBook Air. The Surface Laptop will come out on June 15.


India-based IT company Infosys plans Indiana tech center

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — India-based outsourcing and information technology company Infosys announced Tuesday that it will establish a central Indiana tech center as part of a broader expansion in the United States that is projected to create 10,000 jobs in the coming years. CEO Vishal Sikka joined Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to announce the plan, which includes an $8.7 million investment to lease and equip office space in the Indianapolis area to accommodate 2,000 new workers by the end of 2021.


US allows imports of Argentine lemons

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States says it will allow lemon imports from Argentina’s top producing region for the first time in 16 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that it will lift the ban on lemons from northwestern Argentina on May 26. The decision came days after President Donald Trump said that he was reviewing the position of his administration on the issue. In December, President Barack Obama’s administration said it would lift the ban, which had been imposed following complaints by producers in California that the Argentine lemons carried diseases.


Italy to loan Alitalia $650 million as it seeks a new buyer

MILAN (AP) — Struggling Italian air carrier Alitalia entered its second period of bankruptcy protection in a decade on Tuesday with the government approving a 600 million-euro ($650 million) bridge loan to keep the airline operating as it seeks a new buyer. The move came after the Alitalia board acknowledged the failure of a government-brokered relaunch plan, which workers overwhelmingly rejected despite softened job and salary cuts, out of concern it lacked a realistic strategy to revive revenue.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 2.84 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,391.17. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 36.43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,949.89. The Nasdaq composite gained 3.76 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,095.37.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.18, or 2.4 percent, to $47.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed $1.06, or 2.1 percent, to $50.46 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline dipped 1 cent to $1.51 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to $1.47 a gallon. Natural gas gave up 2 cents to $3.20 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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