Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

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Love not war wins for small businesses and large companies

NEW YORK (AP) -- Imagine a world where David and Goliath are best buds. Well it's becoming reality more frequently in the business world.

Boston Beer Co., maker of Sam Adams, mentors and lends money to small craft brewers. It hopes their sales will grow and take grocery store shelf space from brands like Budweiser, Miller and Coors.

Instead of feeling threatened and trying to crush smaller rivals that could take revenue from them, corporations like Microsoft Corp., Boston Beer and General Mills Inc. are mentoring and loaning money to smaller companies. It's an arrangement that has benefits for both sides.

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Beyond craft brews: Just like foodies, beer geeks go local

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- In a nondescript industrial park, beer geeks line up several times a week outside Bissell Brothers to get the latest batch of fresh beer — much like foodies seeking the freshest baguettes, pomegranates or kale.

Jeremy Ritz didn't get the beer he wanted on a recent day because it was sold out. So he decided to buy some rye ale instead.

Bissell Brothers intends to make 3,200 barrels of beer this year. That's tiny compared to the big craft breweries, which are stretching the meaning of "craft" under Brewers Association guidelines that allow them to retain the claim at up to 6 million barrels.

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FIFA's commercial partners urged to make their voices heard

LONDON (AP) -- FIFA's sponsorship paymasters are facing mounting calls to put pressure on soccer's global governing body to clean up its act — and fast — following Wednesday's arrest of seven officials.

Companies like Coca-Cola, Visa and Adidas have in recent months shown a growing willingness to voice their concerns publicly about FIFA's string of scandals, which have spanned from past allegations of corruption to the abuse of laborers building World Cup venues in Qatar.

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Drilling cutbacks drag down job growth in oil patch

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hammered by cheaper oil, drilling firms have laid off workers and dragged job growth lower in states from Texas to North Dakota.

In Oklahoma, mining and logging jobs, which mostly include oil and gas drilling, fell for the fifth straight month in April. Texas lost 8,300 jobs in the sector, the most in six years, while Wyoming lost jobs in the industry for the fifth straight month.

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US bank earnings up 6.9 percent in 1Q

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. banks' earnings rose 6.9 percent in the first quarter versus a year earlier as revenues increased, delinquent loans continued to fall and the number of "problem" banks reached a six-year low.

The data issued Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. showed "gradual but steady improvement" for the banking industry, FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said at a news conference. Still, low interest rates continued to crimp banks' profit margins on loans during the January-March period.

The FDIC reported that U.S. banks earned $39.8 billion in the first quarter, up from $37.2 billion a year earlier.

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Exxon, Chevron shareholders reject several environmental resolutions

DALLAS (AP) -- Shareholders of big oil companies overwhelmingly rejected several environmental resolutions including proposals to put climate-change experts on their boards and set goals for greenhouse-gas emissions.

The votes at meetings of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. shareholders on Wednesday were expected. Some of the ideas had lost badly at previous annual meetings.

Lower prices for crude have cut into the oil giants' profits. At the Exxon Mobil meeting in Dallas, CEO Rex Tillerson said the company is positioned to withstand ups and down in oil prices and give shareholders a good return on their money.

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Traveling with your dog will cost you — sometimes hundreds

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Having an 80-pound Labradoodle as a travel buddy means B.L. Ochman can quickly separate the hotels that love dogs from those that just put up with them.

A bed-and-breakfast she visited north of New York City wouldn't let her pooch Benny trot around in the main house, among other troubles. Ochman, a Manhattan Internet strategist, has since discovered Audrey's Farmhouse, a B&B in Wallkill, New York, that caters to dogs and doesn't charge pet fees that can top hundreds of dollars.

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Tracy Morgan settles suit with Wal-Mart over fatal crash

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan has settled his lawsuit against Wal-Mart over a highway crash that killed one man and left Morgan and two friends seriously injured.

A filing in federal court in Newark on Wednesday refers to a confidential settlement reached by the two sides.

Morgan's lawyer didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. called it an "amicable settlement." Details weren't disclosed.

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McDonald's targets bun toasting, burger searing

NEW YORK (AP) -- McDonald's is tweaking how it cooks it burgers in hopes of winning back customers.

To improve the taste of its food, the chain is toasting its buns longer so sandwiches will be warmer, said McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook at the Bernstein's Strategic Decisions Conference in New York. He also said the company is changing the way it sears and grills its beef so that the patties are juicier.

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Ex-Madoff trader testifies against co-workers, avoids prison

NEW YORK (AP) -- A longtime trader for Bernard Madoff's firm was sentenced Wednesday to 10 months of home confinement after his testimony helped convict five former co-workers for their roles in history's largest Ponzi scheme.

David Kugel, 69, apologized before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan announced his penalty.

He said he cannot look his 96-year-old mother in the eyes and believes his siblings no longer look up to him.

Swain noted that he earned a substantial reduction from the up to 85 years in prison he faced after pleading guilty in 2011 and cooperating.

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FCC takes aim at annoying telemarketing calls

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Those automated phone calls during the dinner hour, late at night or to your wireless phone can be so frustrating — and the government is taking note.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission circulated a new proposal Wednesday designed to close loopholes, strengthen current rules, and encourage wireless and wireline carriers to do more to fight against unwanted telemarketing calls and spam text messages to consumers.

A key part of the plan: clearing up any confusion over whether the phone carriers can offer blocking services — so-called robo-blocking technology that could help people stop the unwanted calls.

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Zogenix says former obesity drug reduced seizures in study

NEW YORK (AP) -- Drugmaker Zogenix said Wednesday that a drug once used to fight obesity before it was taken off the market may help treat a rare disease that causes severe seizures in young children.

The company said some patients who were given low doses of the drug fenfluramine had no seizures for five years, and others went several years without experiencing one. The results come from a five-year study of 12 patients who suffer from a condition called Dravet syndrome.

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Ford recalls nearly 423K vehicles for power steering problem

DETROIT (AP) -- Under pressure from U.S. safety regulators, Ford is recalling nearly 423,000 cars and SUVs in North America because the power-assisted steering can fail while they're being driven.

The recall covers certain Ford Flex and Taurus vehicles, as well as the Lincoln MKS and MKT from the 2011 through 2013 model years. Also covered are the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ from 2011 through 2012 and some 2011 Mercury Milans.

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Review: Online stylists for the shopping-averse

NEW YORK (AP) -- Though my grandmother was a fashion designer, I hate buying clothes, and I still wear outfits from high school — in the last century.

Even so, I have long been intrigued with Stitch Fix, an online styling and clothing-delivery service that many friends recommend. This spring, it added maternity wear as an option, which gave me just the right excuse to give it a shot (I'm due in the fall). For comparison, I tried Keaton Row, an online service that pairs you up with a real-life stylist.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 121.45 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,162.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed up 19.28 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,123.48. The Nasdaq composite added 73.84 points, or 1.5 percent, to 5,106.59.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 52 cents to close at $57.51 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.66 to close at $62.06 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 5.4 cents to close at $1.945 a gallon. Heating oil fell 4.4 cents to close at $1.857 a gallon. Natural gas fell less than one cent to close at $2.815 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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