Stocks rise in Thursday trade
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks staged a modest rally in Thursday trading. The key averages are narrowly mixed for the week, heading into today's session on Wall Street.
In the latest showing, the Dow rose 37 points to 13,022. The S&P rose 6 points to 1,416. The Nasdaq gained 20 to 3,012.
Asia stocks rise on US data, budget talks continue
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets posted gains today on optimism over two positive U.S. economic reports despite contentious budget talks in Washington aimed at keeping the economy from going into a tailspin.
The Commerce Department raised its estimate of third-quarter growth to an annual rate of 2.7 percent — much better than the 2 percent rate estimated a month ago. Additionally, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 to 393,000 last week.
Those figures come on top of recent manufacturing data out of China that shows its economic recovery is gaining momentum and renewed confidence in Europe's ability to tackle a debt crisis in Greece.
Benchmark crude oil fell below $88 per barrel. The dollar fell against the euro but rose against the yen.
Income, spending figures due
WASHINGTON (AP) — On today's economic calendar, we'll get an idea how the consumer was faring last month.
The Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for October.
SUPERSTORM-THREE STATE EFFORT
NY, NJ, Conn. seek $83B aid in Sandy recovery
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Connecticut Gov. Dannel (DAN'-uhl) Malloy are joining forces trying to land nearly $83 billion in federal aid to recover from Superstorm Sandy.
Cuomo says he's working with committee chairs in Congress to ensure that aid for the three states will be "flexible" so that they can better use the funds where they are most needed.
Democrat Cuomo is asking for $42 billion for repairs and preventive measures. Republican Christie wants $37 billion for recovery and rebuilding. Democrat Malloy says Connecticut's bill is $3.5 billion.
The massive requests come at a time when Congress and President Barack Obama are trying to drastically reduce the nation's deficit, weighing spending cuts along with tax cuts that are soon to expire next year.
Talks to resume in LA-Long Beach harbors strike
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Negotiators for employers and union workers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors will resume talks following a third day of a strike that has shut down most of the terminals at the nation's busiest port complex.
Cargo ships had begun stacking up after seven of eight Los Angeles terminals and three of six Long Beach terminals were shuttered because 70 clerical workers went on strike. They were supported by dockworkers from their union who refused to cross their picket line.
The lead negotiator for the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association Stephen Berry said he wrote a letter to the union president Thursday afternoon to invite him back to the negotiating table with no preconditions.
Talks broke off Monday and the workers struck at a single terminal but expanded the picket lines Wednesday, even after an arbitrator ruled the walkout invalid on Tuesday.
Combined, Los Angeles and Long Beach comprise the nation's busiest port complex, handling 40 percent of the nation's import trade.
San Diego approves pact for desalinated water
SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego's regional water agency has approved a contract to buy the entire output of what would be the Western Hemisphere's largest seawater desalination plant.
The San Diego County Water Authority voted on the 30-year contract Thursday. Poseidon Resources LLC needed the deal to finance construction of the $984 million project.
The plant in Carlsbad is designed to produce 50 million gallons of highly purified drinking water a day, enough to supply about 8 percent of the region in 2020.
The water would be more than twice as expensive as San Diego's imported supplies but backers said it would be well worth the premium to protect against drought.
California to join Powerball frenzy next year
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Californians may have missed out on this week's record-setting Powerball lottery drawing, but they will be able to buy tickets to the multistate game starting next spring.
The California Lottery Commission has voted to adopt the jackpot lottery Powerball, joining the 42 other states that already play it, along with the District of Columbia. Retailers will begin selling tickets in April.
Powerball frenzy hit a peak this week as the jackpot soared to a record $588 million. Two players, in Missouri and Arizona, matched all six numbers and are expected to share the prize.
In California, Lottery Director Robert T. O'Neill says Powerball could bring in an additional $50 million to $100 million for public schools. It is California's second multistate game, after Mega Millions.
Creditors group backs new board at stand-alone AMR
DALLAS (AP) — A group of creditors say that if American Airlines parent AMR Corp. emerges from bankruptcy as an independent company it should have a new board of directors.
The group represents financial investors that, as of a court filing in September, included J.P. Morgan Chase and other investment firms that hold bonds issued by AMR, which filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago Thursday.
The informal or ad hoc group is not part of the official unsecured creditors committee in the bankruptcy case, but it is seeking to influence AMR's reorganization.
The group expects that most members of the new board would have no previous connection to AMR.
American's 7,500 pilots are voting on a proposed contract that would boost their pay in line with pilots at United Airlines and Delta Air Lines after three years and give American's pilots 13.5 percent of the stock in the restructured company. In exchange the contract would reduce benefits and allow American to outsource more flying.
The pilots — along with American's union flight attendants and ground workers — support a merger and already have conditional labor deals with US Airways.
Duke Energy CEO to leave in NC merger settlement
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will step down as head of the largest U.S. electric utility as part of a settlement with the North Carolina utilities regulator.
The resignation ends an investigation into the company's takeover of in-state rival Progress Energy.
Hours after the merger was completed July 2, Duke Energy's board ousted the CEO it promised to keep throughout the 18-month process of combining the two Fortune 500 energy companies headquartered in North Carolina.
The state regulator and Attorney General Roy Cooper launched investigations into the quick change, demanding internal Duke documents and communications.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission said Thursday that its consumer-protection division and Duke reached a deal ending the probe into whether the company misled the regulator ahead of approving the merger.
Honda gets a do-over; revamps Civic to fix flaws
UNDATED (AP) — Talk about a quick U-turn.
Just 19 months after its Civic compact hit showrooms and was slammed by critics, the company has revamped the car, giving it a sportier look and upgrading the interior.
Analysts say Honda, which is among the auto industry's most highly-regarded brands, was worried the car's flaws would hurt sales and market share.
The 2013 version goes on sale today, and Honda has given it a sportier profile, replaced its chintzy dashboard and made the ride quieter. The revamp comes to market in about half the time it normally takes, and shows just how concerned Honda is about falling behind rivals.
Shortly after the 2012 Civic went on sale, in the spring of 2011, the influential magazine Consumer Reports refused to give it a coveted "Recommended Buy." The magazine's chief auto tester said that the car was a step backward, and it appeared Honda tried to save money by using cheaper parts.
STARBUCKS-WORLD AIDS DAY
Starbucks to donate to RED for World AIDS Day
NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks is donating a portion of its proceeds on World AIDS Day to help fight the disease.
The company says it would give five cents to the Global Fund of the RED foundation for each hand-crafted drink it sells on Saturday in the United States and Canada. The coffee shop is also partnering with iTunes, offering a digital $30 gift card that is divided into two $15 certificates to iTunes and Starbucks. Five percent of the proceeds to those gift cards, sold online, will also be donated to RED.
RED was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver and links with brands to help raise money to fight AIDS. It benefits the Global Fund, which uses the money for HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.
GULF OIL SPILL-SHEEN
Plan OK'd to look into sheen near '10 blowout site
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Coast Guard says it has approved plans to investigate another oil sheen spotted near the site of BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The sheen was spotted earlier this month, days after the company plugged an abandoned piece of equipment that was believed to be the source of an earlier sheen.
Coast Guard Ensign Glenn Sanchez says the oil from the sheen has been tested and is from the Macondo well where the disaster occurred. However, he stresses that the oil is classified as old or "dead" oil that has been trapped on the sea floor since the accident, not fresh oil leaking from the well site that was secured in 2010.
Robot submarines will inspect the rig's wreckage and other places near the blowout site next week.
GEORGE LUCAS PARK
Another Yoda statue, Calif. Star Wars fans may get
SAN ANSELMO, Calif. (AP) — Star Wars fans might soon have another Yoda statue in the San Francisco Bay area to visit.
Filmmaker George Lucas plans to help build a small park in Marin County that would feature a bronze sculpture of the popular Star Wars character, along with one of Indiana Jones.
Lucas' estate manager says the Yoda statue would be similar to one in San Francisco's Presidio neighborhood. That one — a full-sized replica of the Jedi sage — lies atop a fountain outside an arts center where Lucas moved most of his operations in 2005. It has become a big draw for fans.
The Marin Independent Journal reports that Lucas applied for a permit Wednesday to demolish a building on the site of the planned park in San Anselmo, the town where he lives.