US stocks follow global markets lower
NEW YORK (AP) — Most stocks were lower in Thursday trading after a number of economic reports provided no reason for encouragement on the outlook.
Railroad Norfolk Southern warned that it's shipping fewer goods, and the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims indicated the job market remained weak.
Despite the negative trend, the Dow gained 19 points to 13,597. The S&P 500 slipped nearly a point, while the Nasdaq declined nearly 7 points.
Asian stocks rebound despite global uncertainty
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets rebounded today, led by oil and technology shares, despite uncertainty about the fragile global economy.
The gains helped to reverse some of the week's losses after Japanese data showed exports suffered from debt-crippled Europe's downturn and a Chinese index showed manufacturing contracted in September.
Benchmark crude oil for October delivery rose above $93 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
Microsoft fixing security bug in Internet Explorer
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft is releasing an update to its Internet Explorer browser to fix a security problem that could expose personal computers to hacking attacks.
A permanent repair to the security flaw is expected today. Microsoft began offering a temporary patch for the problem earlier this week on a part of its website set up for technical issues.
The permanent solution to the problem will be automatically installed on PCs running on Microsoft's Windows operating system if the machine is set up to receive important updates. The temporary repair requires clicking on a link.
Microsoft is urging PC users who haven't enabled their machines for automatic updates to retrieve and install the permanent patch as soon as possible.
The world's largest software maker will release a new version of Internet Explorer along with a dramatic overhaul of Windows on Oct. 26.
Stock prices reduced US household wealth in Q2
WASHINGTON (AP) — A recent rally in the stock market has erased the negative impact. But Americans' wealth dipped about 0.5 percent in the April-June quarter. Then, a drop in stock prices more than offset a gain in home values.
Yet since June, a resurgent stock market has jumped about 7 percent, more than reversing last quarter's 3 percent drop in stock prices. And it's brought many Americans closer to regaining the wealth they lost to the recession — if they managed to keep their home and have invested in stocks.
The Federal Reserve says household net worth fell to $62.7 trillion in the April-June quarter. A 2.1 percent increase in home values added $355 billion. But the value of stock holdings fell about $600 billion.
Household wealth, or net worth, reflects the value of assets like homes, bank accounts and stocks minus debts like mortgages and credit cards. It peaked before the recession at $67.4 trillion.
Americans' net worth has risen 22.5 percent from its low of $51.2 trillion reached in early 2009, in the depths of the recession. But it's still about 7 percent below the pre-recession peak.
Labor strife threatens American Airlines schedule
DALLAS (AP) — With American Airlines canceling dozens of flights every day, passengers with fall travel plans are confronting an inconvenient question: Should they avoid the nation's third-largest carrier because labor strife might cause delays and cancelations?
Several prominent travel gurus say it's too early to "book away" from American. They say the number of canceled flights is still small and that the Fort Worth-based airline can find room on other planes for displaced passengers.
But the airline expects to cancel up to 2 percent of its total flights through the end of October because of a dispute with pilots.
American executives believe pilots are calling in sick to punish American for imposing tough cost-cutting measures as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. The pilots' union insists pilots are reporting to work as usual.
Oracle's 1Q earnings rise, but revenue disappoints
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Oracle's earnings report late yesterday matched analyst estimates in the latest quarter. A revenue decline, however, signals the business software maker is finding it tougher to close sales.
The fiscal first-quarter results are among indications that more companies and government agencies are increasingly cautious.
Oracle Corp. earned $2 billion, or 41 cents, per share for the three-month stretch ending in August. That's an 11 percent increase from income of $1.8 billion, or 36 cents per share, at the same time last year.
Excluding certain accounting items, the Redwood City, Calif., company says it earned 53 cents per share, mirroring analyst projections.
Revenue dipped 2 percent from last year to $8.2 billion. That was about $200 million below analyst forecasts.
Canadian auto union reaches deal with GM
TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian Auto Workers union says it has reached a tentative deal with General Motors.
CAW spokeswoman Shannon Devine said a deal was agreed on late Thursday.
The union earlier said it could serve GM with a 24-hour strike notice after saying they failed to meet the pattern of a deal the union reached with Ford.
The union decided to keep working past a midnight Monday strike deadline after reaching a deal with Ford and extending its contracts with GM and Chrysler.
Workers stayed on the job as talks continued, but the union said it could go on strike after giving GM and Chrysler 24 hours' notice. They wanted the Ford contract to serve as a template for the other two companies. There is no deal yet with Chrysler.
THREE MILE ISLAND SHUTDOWN
3 Mile Island nuke plant automatically shuts down
MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (AP) — A malfunctioning pump at the site of the worst nuclear power plant accident in U.S. history has triggered an automatic shutdown.
Thursday's shutdown at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island was the second in as many months. Government regulators and plant officials say it poses no threat to public health or safety. Operator Exelon Generation Co. says no detectable levels of radiation escaped.
The failure of a coolant pump tripped a computerized system that shuts downs the reactor. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says once the reactor has cooled, plant workers can access the containment building and troubleshoot.
The plant also automatically shut down Aug. 22 while operators were manually shutting it down for repairs.
The plant is named after the island where it's located in the Susquehanna (suhs-kwuh-HAN'-uh) River in Middletown. It had a partial meltdown of a reactor in 1979.
iPhone 5 launch draws crowds at Asia Apple shops
HONG KONG (AP) — Apple's Asian fans jammed the tech juggernaut's shops in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore to pick up the latest version of its iPhone.
Buyers lined up overnight in Australia while in Hong Kong they signed up online for a chance to get their hands on the new iPhone 5.
The smartphone is also being launched in the US, UK, Canada, France and Germany on Friday.
It will go on sale in 22 more countries a week later. Apple received 2 million orders for the iPhone 5 in the first 24 hours, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S when that phone launched a year ago.
Analysts have estimated Apple will ship as many as 10 million iPhone 5s by the end of September.
GULF OIL SPILL-TAR BALLS
Study: Virtually all Ala. tar balls from BP spill
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — A new chemical analysis shows that virtually all the tar balls washing onto the Alabama coast are directly linked to the BP oil spill more than two years ago.
The report released Thursday by Auburn University says that tar balls caused by the spill are hundreds to thousands of times more common than another type of asphalt-like tar deposit that's been in the Gulf for years.
Researchers tested tar found after Hurricane Isaac last month. They found the material is from the BP well, and that certain chemicals in the tar have barely broken down since June 2010.
The work was funded by the city of Orange Beach, the National Science Foundation and others.
BP says it hasn't seen the study. Spokesman Ray Melick says the tar balls are scattered and that BP is working to remove them.
Starbucks turns up heat on coffee brewer market
NEW YORK (AP) — You can almost see the steam rising. Starbucks Corp. is looking to apply its considerable marketing muscle to the single-serve home-brew coffee market. It is an increasingly competitive business.
The Seattle-based company says it will start selling its new single-serve brewer online this week for $199. The machine will be rolled out in its cafes next month.
The arrival of the Verismo was announced earlier this year.
The sector is currently dominated by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., which pioneered the market after its acquisition of the Keurig brand machine in 2006. But expiration of the company's patent on the K-cup coffee technology has spawned copycat versions of coffee pods for Keurig machines.
Starbucks' decision to sell its own brewer comes less than a year after it struck a deal with Green Mountain to make coffee pods for Keurig machines. Now Starbucks is looking for a bigger piece of the pie.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz said that the relationship with Green Mountain will continue and that Starbucks will still sell its pods for Keurig machines in cafes. He said that the Keurig machine is "a fantastic choice" for customers who want only brewed coffee.
The Starbucks' Verismo, however, uses a high-pressure system that can make lattes and other espresso-based drinks, as well as brewed coffee. Essentially, Starbucks has said its machine targets a different type of customer.
As for the name, "Verismo" is a word derived from a form of Italian opera. As The Wall Street Journal noted earlier this year, the operas usually end with someone's death.