Business Highlights

The Associated Press
November 5, 2015


Job creator or job killer? A look at the Pacific trade deal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal now being debated would cover everything from Vietnamese labor unions to copyright protections to trade in sockeye salmon. With the details having been released Thursday, a furious dispute is expected in the United States and some of the 11 other countries that negotiated it.

Supporters say the Trans Pacific Partnership would promote economic growth and provide protections for workers on both sides of the Pacific. Critics say it contains giveaways to drug manufacturers and other multinational companies and exposes American workers to unfair competition with low-wage labor in countries like Vietnam.


US housing recovery divided on age, race and place

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More Americans are qualifying for mortgages, yet minorities still get disproportionately rejected.

Three new industry analyses released Thursday show that the recovering economy has produced a divided U.S. housing market. Where people live, their age and the color of their skin have largely influenced who has benefited as real estate continues to heal from the bursting of a mortgage bubble that triggered the worst economic downturn in nearly 80 years.


Pfizer doubling patient income limit for free drug program

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- As the furor over soaring U.S. prescription drug prices escalates and outrageous price hikes by several smaller drugmakers give the entire industry a black eye, the biggest U.S.-based drugmaker is expanding financial assistance to patients.

Pfizer Inc. said Thursday that it's doubling the allowable income level for people to receive dozens of its medicines without a copayment because more patients are in need. Patients' insurance plans generally must pay the bulk of the drug's cost. Some critics say this isn't the best way to keep drugs affordable for everyone.


US jobless aid requests rise but still near historic lows

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but levels remain near historic lows as employers are hesitant to let go of workers.

The Labor Department said Thursday that a seasonally adjusted 276,000 people sought jobless aid last week, up from 260,000 in the prior week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 3,500 to 262,750.

Jobless claims are a proxy for layoffs. Recent multi-decade lows indicate that employers expect the economy to continue to improve despite global pressures on growth, prompting them to hold onto workers.


Stocks end nearly flat in quiet session

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks ended nearly unchanged after a quiet session as traders weighed mixed corporate earnings and waited for the government's monthly jobs report, due out Friday.

A strong jobs report would be good news for the economy, but it could prompt the Federal Reserve to consider raising interest rates next month, which could in turn take some steam out of stocks. In corporate news, Facebook and Ralph Lauren impressed investors with strong quarterly results, but Whole Foods profits slumped.


Fannie Mae posts $2B profit for 3Q; paying $2.2B dividend

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage giant Fannie Mae reported net income of $2 billion for the July-September period, down from $3.9 billion a year earlier.

The government-controlled company attributed the third-quarter decline in profit mainly to losses on the investments it uses to hedge against swings in interest rates.

Nonetheless, the results posted Thursday marked the 15th straight profitable quarter for Washington-based Fannie Mae.


Fiat Chrysler' US 3Q profit falls 89 percent on recall costs

DETROIT (AP) -- Net income at Fiat Chrysler's U.S. operations fell 89 percent in the third quarter as the company set aside millions to pay for future safety recalls.

The Auburn Hills, Michigan, company says its net profit was $70 million from July through September compared with $611 million a year ago.

Fiat Chrysler US posted just over $1 billion in one-time pretax charges, including an $848 million adjustment for recalls and $159 million for vehicles damaged in a Chinese port explosion last August.


United Airlines CEO plans to return in the first quarter

NEW YORK (AP) -- United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz says he plans to return to work sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

Munoz, 56, has been out on medical following an Oct. 15 heart attack. The company's general counsel, Brett J. Hart, has led the company in his absence.

Munoz had spent a month leading the Chicago-based United Continental Holdings before having the heart attack. He became CEO on Sept. 8 after Jeff Smisek was pushed out amid a federal investigation into the airline's dealings with the government agency running one of its most important airports.


Wells Fargo to pay $81.6M to homeowners in bankruptcy

Wells Fargo Bank has agreed to pay $81.6 million to settle claims that it failed to notify homeowners in bankruptcy of changes in their mortgage payments.

The Department of Justice said Thursday that the lender's failure to give borrowers timely notice of payment hikes or reductions violated a federal bankruptcy rule aimed at ensuring proper accounting of consumers' costs in bankruptcy.

Under the rule, which took effect in December of 2011, mortgage lenders are required to give borrowers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy 21 days' notice before making an adjustment to their monthly payment.


Expedia buys vacation rental company in expansion move

NEW YORK (AP) -- Expedia has stepped up its push to become a one-stop hub for all things vacation and travel with its planned buyout of HomeAway, a vacation-rental company.

The $3.9 billion deal announced late Wednesday would further consolidate an industry which is becoming increasingly competitive.

Expedia already has an arsenal of offerings, including Orbitz, Travelocity and Cheap Tickets.


US regulators: Still heavy risk in big bank loans

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators say they're still seeing a heavy dose of risk in large loans made by banks and other financial institutions, despite the recovering U.S. economy.

The Federal Reserve and other agencies cite ongoing loose lending standards and an increase in loans made for financing takeovers of companies. Those loans are risky because they can greatly exceed the amount of a firm's earnings.

The steep decline in oil prices over the past year has hurt many energy companies. Loans in the industry are at greater risk of souring or are already in default, according to the agencies' 2014 annual review.


The Dow Jones industrial average fell four points to close at 17,863. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,099. The Nasdaq composite fell 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,127.

U.S. crude oil fell $1.12, or 2.4 percent, to $45.20 a barrel in electronic trading in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 60 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $47.98 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline futures fell 2 cents, or 1 percent, to $1.487 a gallon, heating oil fell 3 cents, or 2 percent, to $1.361 a gallon and natural gas futures rose 10 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $2.364 per 1,000 cubic feet.

  • Business

    Here's the budget of a 29-year-old who's almost done paying over $100,000 of student loans

    In 2013, Jessica Elberfeld got mad. The now 29-year-old had been slowly paying off over $113,000 of public and private student loans since graduating in 2009, at the same slow pace she saw reflected in her peers. Elberfeld had graduated and immediately been hired in the music industry in Nashville, Tennessee. But to make ends meet, she had to moonlight as a server in a restaurant and take on paying gigs like house-sitting and awards shows. Eventually, she decided to leave music in pursuit of higher-paying jobs in corporate sales so she could put more money toward her loans. Studying the approach of personal finance experts Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, she learned that it often takes anger to inspire

    Business Insider
  • Business

    Trump Cites Possible Political Damage In Explaining Why He Won't Release Taxes

    For months, Donald Trump has insisted that he would not release his tax returns while under audit ― a position seconded by tax lawyers, though one that the IRS has said is not necessary. In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, the presumptive Republican nominee continued to make the argument it was the IRS audit preventing him from disclosing the finite details of his personal finances ― from the tax breaks he took, to the charitable donations he’s made. But in a telling aside, Trump seemed to admit that he wasn’t disclosing his returns because of the political damage he feared they would inflict.   “Mitt Romney didn’t want to give his tax returns” in 2012, Trump said of the previous Republican

    The Huffington Post
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  • Business

    Why home prices in Southern California keep climbing

    The Southern California housing market is red-hot again. Home prices in the region have been climbing steadily, as they have nationwide, toward record levels not seen since the 2008 housing crisis plunged the country into a severe recession. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a widely followed gauge of the market, showed that prices in the Los Angeles market in April stood at their highest point since October 2007. The median home price in Orange County in May was $651,500, surpassing its bubble-era peak reached in 2007, according to the real estate data firm CoreLogic. Interest rates of about 3.5% or less for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages — not far off the all-time low of 3.31% in November 2012

    Los Angeles Times
  • Technology

    Nintendo's Pokemon Go encore: A resurrected classic NES with 30 built-in games

    Prepare for a nostalgia overload: Nintendo is resurrecting the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. The Nintendo Classic Mini, as it's known, looks just like a shrunken NES. But instead of using those fiddly cartridges, it comes with 30 games built in. Hook it up to your TV with an HDMI cable and enjoy the glory days of Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donky Kong and a whole load more besides. It comes with one Mini NES controller, but you can buy a second one to play with your friends. You can also hook up a Wii controller instead. It's due to go on sale on 11 November in the UK and US, with US pricing pegged at $60. I've asked Nintendo to confirm UK pricing and Australian availability,

  • Politics

    Don’t quit your job if you work in 1 of these 5 industries

    If you want to find a better job, you’ll have far better luck in some industries than others. Despite the fact that the unemployment rate is now below 5% and there are more than 1 million fewer unemployed people than there were a year ago, all is not rosy in the labor market. There recently were 1.4 unemployed workers for every job opening — or to put it another way, there were 14 workers looking for work for every 10 job openings — according to a report released in February by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that studies low- and middle-income workers. In some industries, though, job prospects are a lot better than in others: There are significantly more job

  • "Shark Tank" Star's Brilliant Mortgage Payoff Tip

    Star of "Shark Tank" shares 3 crucial rules on paying off mortgage. Homeowners interested in paying off mortgage ASAP, have to read this now.

    The Easy Loan Site
  • Science

    Deepest ever look into Orion Nebula reveals haunting secrets

    When we think about Orion and space, we usually imagine the three stars that make up the mythical hunter's belt. To the south of that belt is the bright Orion Nebula, visible to observers on Earth in the right conditions on a dark night. The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile looked deep into the heart of the Orion Nebula in infrared and returned a wealth of new information about the fascinating space formation. Researchers discovered a treasure trove of brown dwarfs and "isolated planetary-mass objects" inside the nebula, way more than were previously known. Brown dwarfs hover in a nether realm of classification between planets and stars in size. According to

  • Technology

    A look at 'Pokemon Go' and how it works

    Part of the setup process also involves signing into the app with a Google account, at least unless you have an existing account with the Pokemon site's own "training club ." (It's rationing out new signups.) The Google sign in process prompted a backlash over privacy concerns, but we'll get to that later. The backlash was a strong one.

    Associated Press
  • News

    New Clinton TV Ad Gets Rave Reviews

    July 14 -- On “With All Due Respect,” Mark Halperin and Al Hunt discuss a new Clinton campaign ad named “Role Model,” which highlights some of Donald Trump’s more controversial statements.

    Bloomberg Video
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  • Business

    Convent Tells Woman She Can't Become Nun Until Student Loans Are Paid Off

    A New York woman who wants to become a nun has been told she'll have to wait to take her vows until she pays off her student loans. Alida Taylor, 28, told New York's CBS2 that her desire to become a nun happened after she graduated from the University of Louisiana, moved to New York and took a job with a Broadway costume designer. Alida was hoping to join the Sisters of Life Convent on the city's Upper West Side, but was told she has to pay off her student debt first.
  • Business

    Taj ultimatum: Take casino health deal by Monday or its gone

    A strike against Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal casino grew more contentious Wednesday as strikers rallied outside the New York offices of Donald Trump, who opened the casino, and Carl Icahn, his fellow billionaire who now owns it. As the protest unfolded, Icahn's management team issued an ultimatum to Taj Mahal strikers: Accept the company's health care offer by Monday or it's gone. Union members held rallies outside the offices of Trump and Icahn, accusing both billionaires of harming the Taj Mahal.

    Associated Press
  • Politics

    Mike Pence for Vice President: Maybe Trump’s Not So Crazy After All

    For Republicans who have been convinced by the liberal media that Donald Trump is too erratic and unpredictable to have “his finger on the button,” his apparent choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a running mate should come as a welcome surprise. As the veep selection process wore on, the betting had focused on Pence, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie, with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, considered a long shot. Many in Trump’s inner circle were apparently pushing Gingrich, though he carries nearly as much baggage as Hillary Clinton.

    The Fiscal Times
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  • Business

    Depleted Crews, Idled Rigs Lie In Shale Oil's Path To Revival

    HOUSTON/RUNGE, Texas, July 14 (Reuters) - Two years ago, Reg MacDonald's 20-day drilling classes were packed to capacity, with nearly 40 students eager to land lucrative jobs in the booming oil and gas industry. The latest rout in oil prices has been the last straw for many workers just getting back on their feet after the last downturn in 2008, said MacDonald, president of Maritime Drilling Schools Ltd in Nova Scotia, Canada, which trains both entry-level and experienced workers for oilfield jobs all over the world. Supply outages brought oil prices close to $50 a barrel that many U.S. shale producers say they need to lift output, and drilling has picked up in some of the best oil patches. Oil professionals also talk about equipment idled for so long that it has become unusable, rising service costs, and the threat of extra supply from the backlog of drilled-but-uncompleted wells.

  • Business

    7 stocks under $10 that could make you a lot of money

    As part of your daily routine as an active trader or investor, it's important to track the stocks in the market that are making the biggest percentage gains and the biggest percentage losses. Stocks that are making large moves to the upside are favorites among short-term traders who want to capture some of that massive volatility. Stocks that are making big-percentage moves are usually in play because their sector is becoming attractive or they have a major fundamental catalyst such as a recent earnings release. Stocks that are in favor and making large moves is a segment of the market that I tweet about on a regular basis.These are also the exact type of stocks that I love to trade and alert to my subscribers in real-time.

    The Street
  • Business

    3 Best-Rated Vanguard Mutual Funds to Buy Now

    Vanguard is one of the world’s largest asset management corporations that manages more than $3 trillion in global assets under management. It offers nearly 175 domestic funds and 145 funds for foreign markets (as of Dec 31, 2015). It offers asset management

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  • Sports

    America's Olympic Judo Queen

    Kayla Harrison, the only American to ever win a gold medal in judo, talks about her personal fighting style and the rise of women in MMA.

    WSJ Live
  • Politics

    Theresa May: 8 Things You Should Know About the UK’s New Prime Minister

    Theresa May became Britain’s second female prime minister Wednesday, three weeks after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. The 59-year-old becomes the 13th prime minister to lead the U.K. under Queen Elizabeth II, and she assumes office after having served as home secretary from 2010 until this year.

    The Fiscal Times
  • Business

    4 Surprising Ways to Build Wealth

    HSAs, in other words, can be used to supercharge your retirement savings. Some advisors recommend their clients funnel savings into HSAs after they’ve contributed enough to their workplace retirement plans to get the full match. Other advisors suggest HSAs as an additional way to save for retirement after workplace plans and IRAs are maxed out.

  • 9 Things You Shouldn't Do When You Retire

    Without the proper planning, retirees can make some costly mistakes with their health and finances. Here are nine mistakes retirees tend to make.

    Life Advice Source
  • Business

    This commodity is surging and nobody is paying attention: Gartman

    If you missed the boat on the recent gold and silver rally, fear not. Dennis Gartman says there's a different commodity that could give your portfolio a major boost in the coming weeks. Cotton futures are up nearly 19 percent in the last three months and are trading at levels not seen since June 2014.

  • Health

    If Clinton Is Elected, Get Ready for Taxpayer Funded Nationalized Health Care

    This week, that is exactly what advocates of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, prescribed for the ailing, byzantine Obamacare system. Citing competition concerns, Obama urged lawmakers to revive a Medicare-esque government plan, at least in smaller markets. “Adding a public plan in such areas would strengthen the marketplace approach, giving consumers more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government,” Obama wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    The Fiscal Times
  • Business

    5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Your Social Security Benefits

    How are taxes on Social Security benefits calculated? Are there any strategies that would help me avoid paying taxes on my benefits? Whether your Social Security benefits are taxed depends on your "provisional income." Your provisional income is your adjusted gross income, not counting Social Security benefits, plus nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefits. If it's below $25,000 and you file taxes as single or head of household, or less than $32,000 if you file a joint return, you won't owe taxes on your benefits. If your provisional income is between $25,000 and $34,000 if you're single, or between $32,000 and $44,000 if you file jointly, up to 50% of your benefits may be