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Business Highlights

August 4, 2015


How much more does the CEO make? You may find out

WASHINGTON (AP) — CEOs make a lot more than the average working Joe or Jane. And in the near future, Americans will find out how big the disparity actually is within publicly traded companies.

Federal regulators, under mandate from a 2010 law that reshaped regulation after the financial crisis, will require companies to reveal the extent of their own pay gaps. The Securities and Exchange Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday to formally adopt the rule, which will compel public companies to disclose the ratio between their chief executives’ annual compensation and median employee pay.


Fire sale on stuff that burns: Oil, natural gas, coal down

NEW YORK (AP) — These days it seems whatever can be burned to power a car, heat a home, make electricity or ship people and goods around the globe is being sold at bargain basement prices.

Prices for coal, natural gas, oil and the fuels made from crude such as gasoline and diesel are all far less expensive than they have been in recent years.

Consumers are rejoicing. Fossil fuel companies are reeling. Countries that import energy, such as the U.S., China, Japan and those in the European Union, are getting an economic boost. Exporters, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are facing lower income and budget shortfalls.


Total reboot: How to fix Greece’s economy

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — After so much pain, Greece must now figure out how to get its economy back on its feet.

The scale of the country’s financial problems is mind boggling — a full quarter of the economy evaporated in the past six years and business activity is now plummeting further. Government cuts needed to qualify for a new bailout will hurt incomes for years to come.

The advice to Greece from economists is simple: start with the basics.


US factory orders advance 1.8 percent in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories increased in June, and a key category that reflects business investment plans posted a modest rise. But the gains weren’t robust enough to suggest that the sluggish manufacturing sector is mounting a significant turnaround.

Factory orders advanced 1.8 percent in the month, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The jump, however, was fueled by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft, a volatile sector that can swing widely from month to month.


Aetna turns in better-than-expected 2Q, hikes forecast again

Aetna’s second-quarter earnings jumped 33 percent and the health insurer raised its 2015 forecast again after receiving a boost from a government business it plans to feed with a roughly $35 billion acquisition.

Aetna said Thursday that it gained members in both its Medicare and Medicaid businesses, and higher underwriting margins or improved profitability helped balance a jump in operating costs during the quarter. The nation’s third-largest health insurer easily topped Wall Street expectations.


CVS earnings rise despite no tobacco fix

Pricey specialty drugs helped CVS Health cope with tobacco withdrawal and top analyst expectations in the second quarter.

But the nation’s second-largest drugstore chain also narrowed its full-year earnings outlook and issued a third-quarter forecast that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Its stock fell 2.5 percent in trading Tuesday.

The Woonsocket, Rhode Island, company said that revenue from its biggest business, its pharmacy benefits management segment, jumped 12 percent in the second quarter to more than $24 billion, spurred in part by specialty drugs.


‘Avengers’ helps Disney top 3Q earnings expectations

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Disney’s movie studio boosted company earnings once again, with the debut of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” proving the continued strength of the Marvel superhero brand.

Net income grew 11 percent in the April-June quarter to $2.48 billion, or $1.45 per share, topping the $1.39 expected by 10 analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue climbed 5 percent to $13.1 billion, a hair short of the $13.2 billion expected by six analysts surveyed by Zacks.

Disney said weakness in the euro hurt revenue at Disneyland Paris. Although parks revenue grew, the unit’s revenue came in below forecasts.


Shire offers to buy Baxter drug spinoff for $30 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — The Irish drugmaker Shire is offering to buy Baxalta for about $30 billion in stock as it attempts to solidify its strengthening position in rare disease treatments.

Shire first made its offer on July 10, a little more than a week after Baxalta was spun off from Baxter International Inc.

Baxalta said Tuesday that the offer is too low and that accepting it would be risky because it is in its early stages as a stand-alone company.


US airlines ban shipment of hunting ‘trophies’

NEW YORK (AP) — The big three U.S. airlines have all this week banned the shipment of hunting trophies, although it is unclear how many — if any — they have been carrying in recent years.

Delta Air Lines was the first to announce the change Monday, saying that it would no longer accept lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies. American Airlines and United Airlines soon followed.

American spokesman Ross Feinstein said it’s largely symbolic because his airline does not serve Africa. United, with only one flight to Africa, also announced Monday afternoon its own restriction. United said its records indicate no shipments of these types of trophies in the past.


Maker of hacked radio says system is unique to Fiat Chrysler

DETROIT (AP) — The company that makes car radios which friendly hackers exploited to take control of a Jeep Cherokee says its other infotainment systems don’t have the same security flaw.

Harman International CEO Dinesh Paliwal said Tuesday that the hackers used a cellular connection to get to the radio, which they used to control critical functions such as brakes and steering.

The hack by Twitter security expert Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, who heads auto security for a consulting firm, touched off the recall of 1.4 million vehicles from Fiat Chrysler to patch software holes. On Saturday, the government announced that it would investigate the Harman Kardon radios to see which other manufacturers use them and whether they had the same vulnerabilities.


Tax filing problems could jeopardize health law aid for 1.8M

WASHINGTON (AP) — About 1.8 million households that got financial help for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s law now have issues with their tax returns that could jeopardize their subsidies next year. Administration officials say those taxpayers will have to act quickly.


Comcast speeding up its discounted Internet service

WASHINGTON (AP) — Comcast is speeding up and expanding a discounted Internet service that was created to get more low-income people online.

Comcast created the program four years ago as a condition of government approval of its purchase of NBCUniversal. The service costs $10 a month, a quarter of Comcast’s promotional price for a slightly faster Internet speed.

But critics have said the service, called Internet Essentials, was too slow and its reach too limited.


Facing Islamic State threat, Iraq digitizes national library

BAGHDAD (AP) — The dimly lit, dust-caked stacks of the Baghdad National Library hide a treasure of the ages: crinkled, yellowing papers holding the true stories of sultans and kings; imperialists and socialists; occupation and liberation; war and peace.

These are the original chronicles of Iraq’s rich and tumultuous history — and now librarians and academics in Baghdad are working feverishly to preserve what’s left after thousands of documents were lost or damaged at the height of the U.S.-led invasion.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 47.51 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,550.69. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 4.72 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,093.32. The Nasdaq composite fell 9.84 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,105.55.

U.S. crude rose 57 cents to close at $45.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 47 cents to close at $49.99 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to close at $1.685 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1.7 cents to close at $1.548 a gallon. Natural gas rose 6.4 cents to close at $2.812 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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