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Associated Press

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 22 at 4:02 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — ___

Boeing proposing long-term fix for 787 batteries

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boeing attempted a major step Friday toward getting its 787 Dreamliners flying again, proposing a fix for the plane's troubled batteries that could allow the flights to resume as early as April, congressional officials said.

The next question is whether the Federal Aviation Administration will agree to let the planes fly even though the root cause of a battery fire in one plane and a smoking battery in another is still unknown. The airliners, Boeing's newest and most technologically advanced, have not been allowed to fly since mid-January following a battery fire in one plane and a smoking battery in another.

The plan — a long-term solution, rather than a temporary fix — calls for revamping the aircraft's two lithium ion batteries to ensure that any short-circuiting that could lead to a fire won't spread from one battery cell to the others, officials said. That would be achieved by placing more robust ceramic insulation around each of the battery's eight cells. The aim is to contain not only the short-circuiting, but any thermal runaway, a chemical reaction that leads to progressively hotter temperatures.

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Japan identifies some Boeing 787 problems

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese authorities have identified the causes of fuel leaks and other problems with Boeing's 787 but are still investigating the more serious battery problem that forced an emergency landing in January and the worldwide grounding of the jets.

An oil leak was caused by an improper paint job that led to a switch not working properly, while inadequate taping led to cracks in cockpit glass, and a faulty part led to braking problems, according to the Transport Ministry's investigation released Friday into problems that occurred with the 787 Dreamliner in January.

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Gov't downsizes amid GOP demands for more cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans and other fiscal conservatives keep insisting on more federal austerity and a smaller government. Without much fanfare or acknowledgement, they've already gotten much of both.

Spending by federal, state and local governments on payrolls, equipment, buildings, teachers, emergency workers, defense programs and other core governmental functions has been shrinking steadily since the deep 2007-2009 recession and as the anemic recovery continues.

This recent shrinkage has largely been obscured by an increase in spending on benefit payments to individuals under "entitlement" programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits. Retiring baby boomers are driving much of this increase.

Another round of huge cuts — known in Washington parlance as the "sequester" — will hit beginning March 1, potentially meaning layoffs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers unless Congress and President Barack Obama can strike a deficit-reduction deal to avert them.

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Obama: Hill must make 'right decisions' on cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, intensifying pressure on congressional Republicans, said Friday that lawmakers still have "the opportunity to make the right decisions" and avert a series of mandatory budget cuts by March 1.

Despite little sign of a deal emerging with Republicans, Obama said he does not believe it is inevitable that the $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts will take effect. He said finding a way to avert the cuts should be a "no-brainer" for congressional lawmakers.

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Some patients won't see nurses of different race

DETROIT (AP) — It's been called one of medicine's "open secrets" — allowing patients to refuse treatment by a doctor or nurse of another race.

In the latest example, a white man with a swastika tattoo insisted that black nurses not be allowed to touch his newborn. Now two black nurses are suing the hospital, claiming it bowed to his illegal demands.

The Michigan cases are among several lawsuits filed in recent years that highlight this seldom-discussed issue, which quietly persists almost 60 years after the start of the civil rights movement. The American Medical Association's ethics code bars doctors from refusing to treat people based on race, gender and other criteria, but there are no specific policies for handling race-based requests from patients.

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FDA approves new targeted breast cancer drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a first-of-a-kind breast cancer medication that targets tumor cells while sparing healthy ones.

The drug Kadcyla from Roche combines the established drug Herceptin with a powerful chemotherapy drug and a third chemical linking the medicines together. The chemical keeps the cocktail intact until it binds to a cancer cell, delivering a potent dose of anti-tumor poison.

Cancer researchers say the drug is an important step forward because it delivers more medication while reducing the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy.

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Unemployed complain they need a job to find a job

NEW YORK (AP) — Help wanted. Qualifications: Must already have a job. It's a frustrating catch for those out of work in an era of high unemployment: looking for a job, only to find that some employers don't want anyone who doesn't already have one.

But after four years of above-average joblessness in the U.S., efforts to bar such practices by employers have met with mixed results. While New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C., have passed laws making it illegal to discriminate against the unemployed, New York City's billionaire-businessman mayor vetoed on Friday what would have been the most aggressive such measure in the country. Similar proposals have stalled in more than a dozen other states and Congress.

Advocates for the unemployed say such hiring practices are unfair. Businesses say that the extent of such practices is exaggerated, hiring decisions are too complicated to legislate, and employers could end up defending themselves against dubious complaints. Nationally, more than 1 in 3 unemployed workers has been looking for at least six months, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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NKorea to allow mobile Internet for foreigners

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea will soon allow foreigners to tweet, Skype and surf the Internet from their cellphones, iPads and other mobile devices in its second relaxation of controls on communications in recent weeks. However, North Korean citizens will not have access to the mobile Internet service to be offered by provider Koryolink within the next week.

The announcement comes just weeks after North Korea began allowing foreigners to bring their own cellphones into the country to use with Koryolink SIM cards, reversing a longstanding rule requiring most visitors to relinquish their phones at customs and leaving many without easy means of communication with the outside world.

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EU says eurozone economy to shrink again in 2013

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union predicted Friday that the economy of the 17 member countries that use the euro will shrink again in 2013 even though it will see its fortunes improve in the second half of the year.

In its winter forecast, the EU Commission, the EU's executive arm, said the eurozone is likely to shrink a further 0.3 percent this year, in contrast to November's prediction of 0.1 percent growth.

The debt crisis and the associated belt-tightening are weighing on activity — official figures showed the eurozone contracted 0.6 percent in the final quarter of 2012 from the previous three-month period. The eurozone has been in recession — officially defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth — since the second quarter of 2012, when concerns about the future of the euro were particularly acute.

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Land scarce Singapore looks underground for space

SINGAPORE (AP) — Already one of the most densely populated countries in the world, tiny land scarce Singapore is projecting its population to swell by a third over the next two decades. To accommodate the influx, its planners envisage expanding upward, outward and below ground.

The population target of 6.9 million people, an increase of 1.3 million from the present, is contentious in a country where rapid immigration has already strained services such as public transport and contributed to surging home prices and a widening wealth gap. It sparked a rare protest last week, with some 3,000 people gathering in a park that's the only approved area for demonstrations.

Singaporeans, whose forebears mostly hailed from southern China, fear their falling birth rates combined with the relentless immigration will reduce them to a minority in their own country. Adding a new dimension to their complaints is the idea that planners want underground living to leap off their drawing boards and become a solution to overcrowding.

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Moody's downgrades UK rating from AAA to AA1

LONDON (AP) — Credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded Britain's government bond rating one notch from the top AAA to AA1 Friday, citing weaknesses in the economy's medium-term outlook.

Moody's said "subdued" growth prospects and a "high and rising debt burden" were weighing on the British economy. The agency said rising debt meant "a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government's balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016."

It said, though, that "the U.K.'s creditworthiness remains extremely high," and its outlook is stable.

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Judge blocks shareholder vote on Apple proposal

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge is blocking Apple from conducting a shareholder vote on a package of governance proposals, handing a victory to a rebel investor who is trying to persuade the company to share more of its cash with its investors.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in New York ruled Friday that Apple was wrong to bundle four amendments to its corporate charter into one proposal for a vote at next Wednesday's annual meeting. Shareholders should get to vote on the amendments separately, he said.

Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund run by Wall Street maverick David Einhorn, sued Apple over the proposal because it would remove the board's ability to issue preferred stock without shareholder authorization. Einhorn wants Apple to issue "iPrefs," preferred shares with a guaranteed dividend, as a way of committing the company to sharing its massive profits with shareholders.

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Feds probe J&J on recalled hip implant marketing

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are investigating Johnson & Johnson's practices in marketing a line of hip replacements recalled in 2010 because many had to be replaced within a few years — part of a string of more than 30 product recalls by the health care giant in the last 3 1/2 years.

The company's annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission states that the government has asked for additional documents from DePuy Synthes and two related subsidiaries. They have turned over the documents and are cooperating fully with investigators, the filing states.

DePuy Synthes is one of the world's biggest makers of joint replacements, surgical trauma equipment and other orthopedic surgery products. J&J has had legal problems before over its artificial joints. Just days before the ASR systems were recalled, the Food and Drug Administration told DePuy to stop marketing its Corail Hip System for two unapproved uses.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 120 points to close at 14,001 Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 13 points to 1,515, but still had a loss of 0.3 percent for the week. The Nasdaq composite index rose 30 to 3,161.

Benchmark crude for April delivery rose 29 cents to finish at $93.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price oil that many U.S. refineries use to make gasoline, rose 57 cents at end at $114.10 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Natural gas rose 4.5 cents to finish at $3.29 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil was up less than 1 cent to end at $3.10 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline for April rose 3 cents to finish at $3.27 per gallon.

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