Business Highlights

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

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Beyond Twitter: The next wave of tech IPOs brews

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Just as one high-tech breakthrough often paves the way for the next big thing, technology IPOs move in virtuous cycles, too.

Twitter's scintillating stock market debut punctuated a procession of highly anticipated coming-out parties over the past two-and-half years, providing a springboard for a new generation of rapidly growing startups to make the leap to Wall Street.

The next wave of potentially hot IPOs includes trendy services such as AirBnB, Square, Spotify, Dropbox, Uber, Snapchat, Pinterest, Box, Scribd, Flipboard and King.com. Most of their services are tailor made for smartphones and tablets, a crucial characteristic that helped feed the rabid demand for Twitter's stock in its initial public offering last week.

Despite the short-messaging service's unprofitable history, Twitter is now worth about $29 billion — a valuation that has enriched its founders, employees and early investors.

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Spending cuts, shutdown lower US budget deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government started the first month of the 2014 budget year with a smaller budget deficit, signaling further improvement in the nation's finances at a time when lawmakers are wrestling to reach a deal to keep the government open past January.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the deficit in October was $91.6 billion. That's 24 percent lower than the $120 billion imbalance recorded in October 2012. The deficit is the gap between the government's tax revenue and spending.

Across-the-board spending cuts and the partial government shutdown helped reduce expenditures last month, the first of the new budget year. Higher taxes and a better economy also boosted revenue.

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Next generation of biofuels is still years away

NEW YORK (AP) — The first trickle of fuels made from agricultural waste is finally winding its way into the nation's energy supply, after years of broken promises and hype promoting a next-generation fuel source cleaner than oil.

But as refineries churn out this so-called cellulosic fuel, it has become clear, even to the industry's allies, that the benefits remain, as ever, years away.

The failure so far of cellulosic fuel is central to the debate over corn-based ethanol, a centerpiece of America's green-energy strategy. Ethanol from corn has proven far more damaging to the environment than the government predicted, and cellulosic fuel hasn't emerged as a replacement.

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Venezuela appliances crackdown spurs uncertainty

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Even by Venezuela's volatile standards, it's been a difficult few days.

Basic staples such as flour and vegetable oil have grown scarce throughout the country, the currency is plunging in a thriving black market and inflation that's already among the highest in the world is accelerating.

Amid so much unease, President Nicolas Maduro has settled on radical, and some say self-defeating, solutions. In recent days he's ordered the military to take over appliance stores, which he's told to slash prices, leading bargain hunters to form block-long lines across the country.

The populist measures seem designed to help Maduro's party get over the hump of next month's mayoral vote, its first electoral test since the president narrowly defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles in April. But while the measures apparently are popular with voters, Maduro runs the risk of cannibalizing an already damaged economy.

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Airlines bet on India market despite losses

MUMBAI, India (AP) — India has become a hot ticket for international carriers since opening its airline industry to foreign investors last year. But the potential of a giant market where only a sliver of the population travel by plane also comes with a catch: airlines in India are vastly unprofitable thanks to sky-high costs and cut-throat competition.

In recent months, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Air announced it was taking a $379 million stake in India's Jet Airways. Malaysia-based AirAsia said it would start a budget carrier with Indian conglomerate Tata Group. Most recently, Singapore Airlines signaled its intention to go into business with Tata for a full-service airline.

They are lured by a vista of seemingly limitless potential in a country of 1.25 billion people. The number of airline passengers is growing by 10-20 percent annually and is expected to triple to some 450 million trips per year by 2020 as an expanding middle class trades up from slow train journeys to planes in a country that spans thousands of kilometers (miles) from Himalayan mountains to sub-tropical coasts.

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Obama administration posts low health care signups

WASHINGTON (AP) — Putting a statistic on disappointment, the Obama administration revealed Wednesday that fewer than 27,000 people signed up for private health insurance last month in the 36 states relying on a problem-filled federal website.

States running their own enrollment systems did better, signing up more than 79,000, for a total enrollment of over 106,000.

Still, that was barely one-fifth of the nearly 500,000 people administration officials had projected would sign up the first month of Obama's signature program, a numerical rebuke to the administration's ability to deliver on its promise.

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In key shift, US oil production tops net imports

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first month in nearly two decades, the U.S. in October extracted more oil from the ground than it imported from abroad, marking an important milestone for a nation seeking to wean itself off foreign oil.

A promising sign for a still-slugging economy, the shift could foreshadow future opportunities to boost jobs in the U.S., lower the trade deficit and insulate the economy from foreign crises that can send oil prices rising. But it also speaks to deeper, underlying changes in the way Americans use oil, as price-conscious consumers seek to limit what they pay at the pump.

Not since 1995 has the U.S produced more crude oil than it imported. For several years now, domestic production has been on the rise while net imports have been declining. But data released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical wing of the Energy Department, show the trend lines have finally crossed, with crude oil production topping 7.7 million barrels per day.

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Lincoln hopes for smoother 2014 with new MKC SUV

GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich. (AP) — After a bumpy start to its reinvention as a luxury brand, Lincoln hopes to smooth things out with a graceful new SUV.

The Lincoln MKC, being introduced Wednesday in New York, is the second of four new vehicles Ford Motor Co. is counting on to revive its luxury brand. It goes on sale in the U.S. next summer for a starting price of $33,995, making it the least expensive vehicle in Lincoln's lineup.

The MKC looks similar to the concept version that debuted at the Detroit auto show last January. It's low and wide, with a sloping roof, optional panoramic sunroof and a prominent winged grille. The tailgate cuts into the sides of the vehicle, instead of the rear, allowing a long, unbroken band of taillights. A sharp crease undulates along the sides, giving the vehicle a constant sense of movement.

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With vacationers home, airlines boost on-time mark

Airlines are doing a better job of staying on schedule now that fewer people are flying.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Wednesday that 83.8 percent of domestic flights arrived on time in September, slightly better than September 2012's 83.3 percent rate. It was a bigger improvement over July and August, when summer vacationers packed the nation's airports and about one in four flights arrived late.

Hawaiian Airlines held its usual top spot in the ratings, with 95 percent of flights arriving within 14 minutes of schedule. Of the 16 reporting carriers, Southwest Airlines ranked last, with a 76 percent on-time mark.

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Macy's upbeat about holiday shopping season

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy's is seeing signs that a merry holiday shopping season could be in store.

The department store chain on Wednesday reported a quarterly profit that handily beat Wall Street expectations, with the company citing rejiggered advertising and promotions for helping reverse a slip in sales in the previous quarter.

In a conference call with analysts, chief financial officer Karen Hoguet noted that traditional gift categories such as fine jewelry, cashmere and housewares were trending well. She also noted positive trends for cold weather items such as coats, boots and sweaters.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 70.96 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,821.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14.31 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,782. The Nasdaq composite rose 45.66 points, or 1.2 percent, to 3,965.58.

Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery gained 84 cents to close $93.88 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international benchmark, added $1.31 to $107.12 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline added 4 cents to $2.63 a gallon. Heating oil rose 4 cents to $2.90 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent per 1,000 cubic feet to $3.57.