Business Highlights

11/17/2014 3:00 PM
By Associated Press

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'Red warning lights' flashing for global economy

LONDON (AP) — The global economy's problems seem to be multiplying.

Hours after the leaders of the world's 20 most developed economies sought to boost confidence by promising to increase global output by $2 trillion over five years, Japan said it had fallen into recession.

That leaves the country — the world's third-largest economy — on a long and growing list of troubled economies. China is slowing as well, and Europe can't seem to take off.

Among major economies, only the United States and Britain are growing at decent rates, and how long that lasts depends on how much trouble their trading partners are in.

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Actavis to spend $66 billion on Allergan

Actavis said Monday that it is buying Botox-maker Allergan for $66 billion in one of the biggest acquisitions announced so far this year.

The company is offering about $219 in cash and stock for each Allergan share. The deal has the support of both companies involved.

Allergan spent months fending off overtures from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., which was working with Pershing Square Capital Management. But the company felt its $53 billion bid was too low and it worried the Canadian drugmaker would gut its research funding.

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Halliburton pounces on Baker Hughes

NEW YORK (AP) — In a deal that shows just how quickly falling prices can upend the energy industry, Halliburton is buying rival oilfield services company Baker Hughes for cash and stock worth $34.6 billion.

Global oil prices have tumbled 31 percent over the past 5 months to levels not seen in four years. That has forced the industry to cut costs by delaying or scaling back drilling — which means less work for Halliburton and Baker Hughes, companies that manage oil and gas fields for energy companies.

Even when prices were high, oil and gas companies had begun to slow capital spending and new drilling as rising costs cut into profit margins. Energy companies now have even less to spend.

Halliburton Chairman and CEO Dave Lesar said Monday that the combined company will be able to reduce costs by $2 billion a year.

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Why airfare keeps rising despite lower oil prices

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. airlines are saving tens of millions of dollars every week because of lower prices for jet fuel, their largest expense. So why don't they share some of the savings with passengers?

Simply put: Airlines have no compelling reason to offer any breaks. Planes are full. Investors want a payout. And new planes are on order.

In fact, fares are going higher. And those bag fees that airlines instituted in 2008 when fuel prices spiked aren't going away either.

In the 12 months ended in September, U.S. airlines saved $1.6 billion on jet fuel. That helped them post a 5.7 percent profit margin in the first three quarters of this year, robust for the industry but lagging behind the 10 percent average for the Standard & Poor's 500.

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Hong Kong-Shanghai stock link makes lopsided debut

HONG KONG (AP) — International investors plowed money into Shanghai's stock market Monday, maxing out their daily limit, in the debut of a landmark trading link that gives outsiders wider access to mainland China's main stock market through brokers in Hong Kong.

The stock connect gives all sorts of investors access to the stock market in the world's No. 2 economy for the first time. The trading link also gives wealthy Chinese investors access to a market outside of the mainland for the first time.

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US pension insurer ran record $62B deficit in 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal agency that insures pensions for about 41 million Americans saw its deficit nearly double in the latest fiscal year.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said Monday that its deficit stands at about $62 billion for the budget year — its widest deficit in the 40-year history. That compares with a $36 billion shortfall the previous year. The agency said the worsening finances of some multi-employer pension plans mainly caused the increased deficit.

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US factory output increases 0.2 pct in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing output grew modestly in October, as autoworkers churned out fewer cars and trucks.

Output at manufacturing plants rose 0.2 percent in October, the Federal Reserve said Monday. Gains came from the rising demand for machinery, plastics, clothing and furniture. But in October, the automotive sector tapped the brakes for the third straight month.

Auto production fell 1.2 percent in October, after declines of 1.9 percent in September and 7.2 percent in August.

Manufacturing has steadily helped fuel economic growth for much of 2014.

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GM compensation expert extends claims deadline

DETROIT (AP) — The deadline for victims of crashes caused by faulty General Motors ignition switches has been extended for a month as the death toll rose to 33.

The head of GM's compensation fund said the deadline has been extended until Jan. 31 and that 33 death claims are eligible for compensation by the fund. That's up from 32 last week.

GM came under fire last week because the family of a Connecticut woman who died in a 2003 crash had not been notified that her crash had been linked to a faulty switch, even though GM knew for years. The family's lawyer and a U.S. senator called on GM to extend the deadline beyond Dec. 31.

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Syngenta faces dozens of lawsuits over GMO seed

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More farmers are filing lawsuits against agrochemicals giant Syngenta in a legal battle tied to the sale of a genetically modified corn seed.

Agrisure Viptera is genetically altered to kill corn-eating bugs and is approved by the United States. But China, a major corn market that refuses to buy genetically modified crops it hasn't tested, had not agreed to import it.

More than 50 lawsuits have been filed and hundreds more are being prepared. The lawsuits say losing China as a buyer has cost corn farmers more than $1 billion.

Syngenta says the lawsuits are without merit and upholds the right of farmers to use approved new technologies.

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Huge US solar plant lags in early production

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The largest solar power plant of its type in the world isn't producing as much energy as planned because the sun isn't shining as much as expected.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System opened in February near the California-Nevada border. Operators said it would produce enough electricity to power a city of 140,000 home. So far, the plant is producing about half of its expected annual output for 2014, according to calculations by the California Energy Commission.

It could take until 2018 for the plant backed by $1.6 billion in federal loan guarantees to hit its annual peak target, said NRG Energy Inc., which operates the plant and co-owns it with Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 13.01 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 17,647.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.50 points, or 0.1 percent, to end at 2,041.32. The Nasdaq composite fell 17.54 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,671.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 18 cents to $75.64. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 10 cents to $79.31. Wholesale gasoline lost 1.6 cents to $2.026 a gallon. Heating oil dropped 1.2 cents to $2.404 a gallon. Natural gas rose 32 cents, or 8 percent, to $4.341 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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