Business Highlights

Business Highlights

Associated Press

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School spending by affluent is widening wealth gap

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Education is supposed to help bridge the gap between the wealthiest people and everyone else. Ask the experts, and they'll count the ways:

Preschool can lift children from poverty. Top high schools prepare students for college. A college degree boosts pay over a lifetime. And the U.S. economy would grow faster if more people stayed in school longer.

Plenty of data back them up. But the data also show something else:

Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they're widening the nation's wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 — went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids' futures.

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Who is the man replacing the 'Bond King'?

NEW YORK (AP) -- With Bill Gross' surprise departure from Pimco, 45-year-old Daniel Ivascyn now finds himself watching over trillions in assets at the huge mutual fund firm.

The new chief investment officer takes over from a fiery Wall Street legend. Gross co-founded Pimco in 1971 and ran the firm for four decades, turning the company's flagship product, the Total Return Fund, into a $221 billion behemoth. His success earned him the title "Bond King."

Ivascyn is also highly accomplished, and Pimco watchers say his even-handed management style will provide much needed relief to the California-based firm that has been roiled by big-name departures.

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What's PayPal's first solo move?

NEW YORK (AP) -- PayPal's impending split from long-time partner eBay Inc. will ratchet up its appeal to online retail competitors such as Amazon.com and give it the freedom to aggressively take on new mobile pay challenger Apple Pay. For eBay, the challenge will be how to drive revenue without its fastest-growing division.

The move marks a 180-degree turn for eBay Inc. CEO John Donahoe, who had been adamant in spurning activist investor Carl Icahn's call months ago to spin off PayPal. Donahoe, who will step down after the split is finalized in the second half of next year, said he now agrees that it's the right path for both companies. With the launch of Apple Pay next month expected to reshape the mobile payments industry, Icahn said he's "happy" eBay came around, "perhaps a little later than they should have, but earlier than we expected."

Investors were happy too, sending eBay shares up more than 7 percent to close at $56.63 on Tuesday.

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Microsoft skips Windows 9 to emphasize advances

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The next version of Microsoft's flagship operating system will be called Windows 10, as the company skips version 9 to emphasize advances it is making toward a world centered on mobile devices and Internet services.

The current version, Windows 8, has been widely derided for forcing radical behavioral changes. Microsoft is restoring some of the more traditional ways of doing things and promises that Windows 10 will be familiar for users regardless of which version of Windows they are now using.

For instance, the start menu in Windows 10 will appear similar to what's found in Windows 7, but tiles opening to the side will resemble what's found in Windows 8.

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Court mulls legality of firing for pot use off job

DENVER (AP) -- Pot may be legal in Colorado, but you can still be fired for using it.

Now, the state's highest court is considering whether workers' off-duty use of medical marijuana is protected under state law.

Colorado's Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a case involving Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was fired by the Dish Network after failing a drug test in 2010.

Coats said he never got high at work. But pot's intoxicating chemical, THC, can stay in the system for weeks.

Coats says his pot smoking is allowed under a little-known state law intended to protect employees from being fired for legal activities off the clock. But the company argues that because pot remains illegal at the federal level, medical marijuana isn't covered by the state law.

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Viagra ads target women for 1st time

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The maker of the world's top-selling erectile dysfunction drug on Tuesday will begin airing the first Viagra TV commercial that targets the less-obvious sufferers of the sexual condition: women.

In the new 60-second ad, a middle-aged woman reclining on a bed in a tropical setting addresses the problems couples encounter when a man is impotent.

Having a woman speak directly to men about impotence is a unique strategy for Pfizer Inc. The world's second-biggest drugmaker is looking for ways to boost sales of Viagra, Pfizer's No. 6 seller, at a time when it is encountering new competition.

Patents give a drug a monopoly, generally for 20 years. But when those patents expire, cheaper generic versions flood the market, often wiping out most of the brand-name drug's sales within a year.

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US home prices rise at slowest pace in 20 months

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home prices in July increased at the slowest pace in 20 months, reflecting sluggish sales and a greater supply of houses for sale.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.7 percent in July from 12 months earlier. That's down from an 8.1 percent gain in June and the smallest increase since November 2012.

Sales of existing homes have been weak for most of this year. They picked up over the summer but then fell in August and are 5.3 percent lower than a year ago.

The slowdown has occurred partly because investors are pulling back from the housing market. Meanwhile, many would-be buyers are unable to obtain a mortgage, particularly first-time buyers. Nineteen of the 20 cities in the index reported lower annual gains than in June. And a new broader index of nationwide home prices compiled by S&P rose just 5.6 percent.

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US consumer confidence slides in September

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer confidence deteriorated in September after hitting the highest level in nearly seven years in August. But economists said the fall appears to be a temporary slip that shouldn't dampen consumer spending in the coming months.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its confidence index fell to 86.0, the lowest point since a May reading of 82.2. It was the first decline after four months of gains and followed a revised 93.4 in August, which had been the highest reading since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession officially began.

Economists had expected a slight decline in September after the index hit a nearly seven-year high, but the size of the drop surprised them. Some suggested that the result may have been influenced by heightened global tensions as the conflict against Middle East militants widens.

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Drug and device firms paid $3.5B to care providers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- From research grants to travel junkets, drug and medical device companies paid doctors and leading hospitals billions of dollars last year, the government disclosed Tuesday in a new effort to spotlight potential ethical conflicts in medicine.

Industry spent nearly $3.5 billion on such payments in the five-month period from August through December 2013, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which released data on 4.4 million payments.

The massive trove of information named companies and many of the recipients. Also listed were types of payments, with details down to travel destinations. Some 546,000 clinicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals received payments. Some doctors had ownership stakes in companies.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 28.32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,042.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 5.51 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,972.29. The Nasdaq composite slipped 12.46 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,493.39.

Benchmark U.S. crude plunged $3.41, or 3.6 percent, to settle at $91.16. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oils imported by U.S. refiners, dropped $2.53, or 2.6 percent, to $94.67 a barrel in London. Gasoline futures dropped 11 cents to $2.587 a gallon, heating oil fell 5.69 cents to $2.647 a gallon and natural gas slid 3.3 cents to $4.121 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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