Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

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Comcast abandons Time Warner Cable bid after gov't pushback

NEW YORK (AP) -- What killed Comcast's $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable? Regulators' desire to protect the Internet video industry that is reshaping TV.

A combination of the No. 1 and No. 2 U.S. cable companies would have put nearly 30 percent of TV and about 55 percent of broadband subscribers under one roof, along with NBCUniversal, giving the resulting behemoth unprecedented power over what Americans watch and download.

Competitors, consumer groups, and politicians criticized the deal, saying it would lead to higher prices and less choice. The Justice Department said that Comcast dropped its bid because of regulators' concerns that the Philadelphia-based cable giant would become an "unavoidable gatekeeper" for Internet services.

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What could McDonald's do to fix its business?

NEW YORK (AP) -- When it comes to McDonald's, everyone seems to have an opinion about what the company needs to do differently.

After turning in another quarter of sliding sales and profit, McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook said the chain will unveil initial details on a plan to turn around its fortunes on May 4. Among the challenges it is facing are intensifying competition and an image for serving junk food that it just can't seem to shake.

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Cheaper fuel has airlines soaring to record profits

DALLAS (AP) -- For airlines, the record profits keep coming, thanks to cheaper jet fuel.

Like motorists, airlines have been saving money at the pump since oil prices began plunging last summer. Even with a recent increase, the spot price of jet fuel is down 40 percent since September. Airlines are getting such a price break that profits are surging even though their revenue is flat or declining.

At American Airlines, passengers flew fewer miles and revenue declined 2 percent in the first quarter. But thanks to a $1.36 billion cut in its fuel bill, American reported Friday that it earned a record $932 million.

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BYOB: It's Brew Your Own Beer at some colleges

POMONA, California (AP) -- A bachelor's in beer? A master's in malt? Not quite. But these days some U.S. colleges are teaching students to make beer as part of their studies.

When California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, fired up its gleaming new stainless steel brewery in December, it joined a small-but-growing number of colleges instructing students on how to produce high-quality craft beers. At the same time, it took the movement a step beyond — kegging the results of their labors and selling it on campus.

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Foreigners who came to Brazil in boom times flee the bust

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- When Frenchman Gwenel Lecourieux was gearing up to move to Brazil, the country with its swelling upper class and world-renowned hunger for luxury goods seemed like the perfect place to set up his dream business, selling high-end watches.

But Brazil's economy skidded to a halt and demand evaporated for his watches worth thousands of dollars each. Just 15 months after arriving in Rio de Janeiro, 36-year-old Lecourieux is preparing to cut his losses and return to France.

Brazil doesn't track the number of foreign residents leaving the country, but signs indicate the country's allure has slipped since foreign work authorizations peaked in 2011. Not long ago, Brazil was the envy of recession-encumbered Europe and the United States, with an annual growth rate of 7.5 percent in 2010 and nearly full employment. But falling commodity prices and dampening domestic consumer demand have upended the economy, which barely expanded in 2014 and is expected to recede this year.

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Durable goods orders up, but business investment falls again

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Purchases of long-lasting manufactured goods in March jumped by the largest amount in eight months, but a closer look at the details reveals that businesses kept pruning their investment plans in the face of a softening U.S. economy.

Orders to factories for durable goods rebounded 4 percent in March after a 1.4 percent decline in February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The result was led by a big jump in demand for commercial aircraft. Outside of the transportation category, however, orders fell for a sixth straight month.

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Falling prices, rising threats cool interest in Kurdish oil

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) -- The hall for the Irbil Oil and Gas Exhibition this week was crowded with company displays, executives and investors. But conspicuously absent were international oil giants like Shell, Exxon-Mobil and Chevron that only a year ago were eager to exploit the promising reserves of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

The threat of Islamic State group militants, who have swept across much of northern Iraq and are battling Kurdish forces only miles away from the Kurdish capital, Irbil, has dampened international interest. The security threat only increases oil companies' doubts, on top of falling oil prices and disputes between the Kurds and the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

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Diet Pepsi dropping aspartame on customer concerns

NEW YORK (AP) -- PepsiCo says it's dropping aspartame from Diet Pepsi in response to customer worries and replacing it with sucralose, another artificial sweetener commonly known as Splenda.

The decision to swap sweeteners comes as Americans keep turning away from popular diet sodas. Rival Coca-Cola said this week that sales volume for Diet Coke, which also uses aspartame, fell 5 percent in North America in the first three months of the year.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said in a statement that it has no plans to change the sweetener in Diet Coke, which is the country's top-selling diet cola.

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Barra compensation triples to $15.8M in 1st year as GM CEO

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra's compensation more than tripled in 2014 to $15.8 million in her tumultuous first year in the automaker's top job.

Barra and other top executives got only 74 percent of the cash incentives they could have received, because GM fell short of goals set by the board. But her stock awards more than doubled from 2013 when she was senior vice president of for product development and purchasing.

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Mylan makes official bid for Perrigo in generic drug contest

NEW YORK (AP) -- Generic drugmaker Mylan is making official its offer for over-the-counter medicines maker Perrigo as it remains at the center of a three-way battle: Mylan wants to buy Perrigo, while a larger rival wants to buy Mylan.

Perrigo has already rejected Mylan's offer and reiterated Friday it feels the bid, worth more than $30 billion, is too low. Israeli drugmaker Teva, meanwhile, said Friday it is committed to acquiring Mylan, which in turn has expressed skepticism about Teva's plan. Teva is offering $40.1 billion for Mylan.

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Wynn Resorts shareholders: Elaine Wynn won't return to board

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Elaine Wynn failed Friday to win re-election to the board of Wynn Resort Ltd. — the casino-hotel company she co-founded with ex-husband Steve Wynn — a development that ended a feud over the issue.

Shareholders who had to decide between re-electing Elaine Wynn or agreeing with a company recommendation to re-elect two other sitting board members ultimately sided with the company.

Wynn Resorts general counsel Kim Sinatra announced the results at the company's annual meeting minutes after a handful of remaining votes were collected from some of the 141 shareholders in attendance at the Encore Theater inside the Las Vegas resort.

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Is ice cream safe? Federal health officials say yes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Is ice cream safe to eat? Federal officials say yes, even amid recalls by two ice cream companies after the discovery of listeria bacteria in their frozen confections.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there's no reason to think that listeria illnesses and deaths linked to Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries and the discovery of listeria in a sample of Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams are related.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 21.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,080.14. The S&P 500 index rose 4.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,117.69. The Nasdaq composite gained 36.02 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,092.08.

The price of U.S. crude oil fell 59 cents to close at $57.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 43 cents to close at $65.28 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2 cents to close at $2.008 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.4 cent to close at $1.928 a gallon. Natural gas was unchanged at $2.531 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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