Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

___

Alibaba stock soars in jubilant trading debut

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alibaba debuted as a publicly traded company Friday and swiftly climbed more than 40 percent in a mammoth IPO that offered eager investors seemingly unlimited potential for growth and a way to tap into the burgeoning Chinese middle class.

The sharp demand for shares sent the market value of the e-commerce giant soaring well beyond that of Amazon, eBay and even Facebook. The initial public offering was on track to be the world's largest, with the possibility of raising as much as $25 billion.

Jubilant CEO Jack Ma stood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as eight Alibaba customers, including an American cherry farmer and a Chinese Olympian, rang the opening bell.

___

China fines GlaxoSmithKline $492M for bribery

BEIJING (AP) -- Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline was fined $492 million on Friday for bribing doctors in China, the biggest such penalty ever imposed by a Chinese court.

The court sentenced the company's former China manager, Briton Mark Reilly, and four Chinese co-defendants to prison but postponed the sentences for two to four years, suggesting they may never be served. The court said it granted leniency because the defendants confessed.

The case, first publicized in mid-2013, highlighted the widespread use of payments to doctors and hospitals by sellers of drugs and medical equipment in a poorly funded health system that Chinese leaders have promised to improve. The fine is the largest such penalty ever imposed by a Chinese court.

___

Investors breathe sigh of relief at Scottish vote

LONDON (AP) -- Scotland's decision to reject independence from the United Kingdom gave British markets a short-term lift Friday but worries over future constitutional changes kept a lid on the relief rally.

The No campaign won 55.3 percent of the votes cast in Thursday's referendum against 44.7 percent who backed independence. The margin was wider than expected — most opinion polls on the eve of the vote were predicting a narrower 4-point victory for proponents of the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Investors breathed a sigh of relief that a host of thorny economic issues were not triggered by a Yes vote. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended up 0.3 percent at 6,837.92 but had been higher earlier in the session.

___

Review: Larger iPhones eliminate reason to switch

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's easy to dismiss Apple's new iPhones as merely catching up to Android.

After all, phones running Google's Android system long have had larger screens. In addition, many Android phones already have the wireless chips that iPhones are getting for making credit card payments without pulling out a card at retail stores.

But the new iPhones are a big deal for one simple reason: Only Apple has the advantage of building both the hardware and the software, so iPhones are easier to use and more dependable.

There are many flavors of Android out there, and some phones won't run the latest apps or work with accessories such as smartwatches. In addition, many leading apps come to the iPhone first or have features exclusive to iPhones.

___

Unemployment rates rise in 24 US states in August

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.

The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.

Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs. The state figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.

___

FDA revises food safety rules due next year

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration on Friday revised sweeping food safety rules proposed last year after farmers complained that the regulations could hurt business.

The new proposals would relax water quality standards and allow farmers to harvest crops sooner after using raw manure as fertilizer.

The final rules are due in 2015, and the FDA has been haggling over how to write them since Congress passed a food safety law in 2010. Regulators say balancing the need for tighter food safety standards after major food-borne illness outbreaks in spinach, eggs, peanuts and cantaloupe against the needs of farmers who are new to such regulations has been a challenge.

Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, says the agency is trying to "achieve the goal of food safety in a practical way." The rules are new terrain for the agency, he says.

___

Nepal clears Indian firm to build hydropower plant

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Nepal's government signed an agreement Friday with Indian company GMR to build the Himalayan nation's largest hydroelectric plant in a small step toward easing chronic power shortages and attracting new investment.

The $1.15 billion Upper Karnali Hydro power plant would be the biggest private foreign investment in Nepal, putting India ahead of northern neighbor China, which has long shown interest in developing Nepal's power industry.

The agreement was signed by officials from Nepal Investment Board and the Indian company in the presence of Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

___

The Kuro taste: Peppery tang and hint of squid ink

TOKYO (AP) -- The first Kuro, or black, burger had a black bun and sauce. Last year's edition, the Kuro Ninja, added a slice of (non-black) bacon to the signature black components. Now Burger King Japan is going black on black.

The fast-food chain added black cheese and darkened the other ingredients in the special burger duo added to menus Friday. Marketing Manager Kana Ienega said Burger King Japan wants people to try the burger and find it tasty even though it may look unappetizing at first.

___

GM to introduce new, high-end Cadillac next year

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors will begin building a new, top-end Cadillac sedan late next year at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

The auto maker said Friday that the rear-wheel drive car will make its debut in the first half of 2015, and that it will reveal the name of the new model soon.

The new Cadillac is part of a $384 million investment GM announced last spring in the assembly plant, which straddles the border of Detroit and the enclave of Hamtramck. That plant also makes the Opel Ampera, the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac ELR, a luxury version of the hybrid electric Chevrolet Volt. The carmaker said the factory is capable of building five models on one production line.

___

Pabst Brewing to be sold to Russian company

NEW YORK (AP) -- The maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum.

Oasis is buying Pabst with TSG, an investment firm known for its work with consumer products companies. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.

In addition to its namesake beer, Pabst Brewing Co. makes Colt 45, Old Milwaukee and Schlitz, in addition to regional brews such as Lone Star, Rainier and Old Style. Pabst was acquired in 2010 by C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., which is known for investing in food brands, including Twinkie maker Hostess.

___

By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 13.75 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 17,279.74. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.96 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,010.40. The Nasdaq composite fell 13.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,579.79.

Oil fell 66 cents to $92.41 a barrel as the dollar gained strength. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils imported by many U.S. refineries, rose 69 cents, to $98.39 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 5 cents to $2.611 a gallon. Heating oil was flat at $2.717 a gallon. Natural gas fell 7.3 cents to $3.837 per 1,000 cubic feet.

View Comments (126)