BC-Business News Digest
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—Adds: FRANCE-FASHION-JEAN PAUL GAULTIER, WOMEN'S CAR SERVICE, FRANCE-NETFLIX LAUNCH, REVERSE MORTGAGES, TESLA-MALL SALES, REVEL-AUCTION, UNITED-FLIGHT ATTENDANTS
—Updates: FINANCIAL MARKETS
NEW YORK — Microsoft's $2.5 billion purchase of the company behind the hit game Minecraft makes sense as the tech giant enhances its Xbox gaming platform. The move also fits with the company's attempt to grab attention on mobile phones. The Lego-like multiplayer game is the top paid app for the iPhone and Android devices. But the purchase also comes with big risks for Microsoft. Gamers are a fickle bunch and today's popular hit could be tomorrow's dud. Minecraft's maker, Mojang, will say goodbye to its founders once the purchase is finalized, raising questions about its ability to create another big hit under Microsoft's stewardship. By Mae Anderson and Barbara Ortutay. SENT: 740 words, photo.
GENERAL MOTORS-IGNITION SWITCH DEATHS
DETROIT — The death toll tied to faulty ignition switches in General Motors small cars has risen to 19, according to a compensation expert hired by the company. The number is likely to go higher. Kenneth Feinberg says he has determined that 19 wrongful death claims are eligible for payments from GM. General Motors' estimate of deaths has stood at 13 for months, although the automaker acknowledged the possibility of a higher count. By Tom Krisher. SENT: 620 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — When the Federal Reserve issues a policy statement after it meets this week, the financial world will be on high alert for two words: "Considerable time." The presence or absence of that phrase will trigger a rush to assess the likely timing of the Fed's first increase in interest rates since it cut them to record lows in 2008. Most economists think the Fed will raise rates starting around mid-2015. But as the U.S. economy has strengthened, speculation has intensified about whether it might do so sooner, perhaps by March. After the Fed issues its statement Wednesday, Chair Janet Yellen will hold a news conference in which she'll be pressed to clarify the Fed's intentions. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 870 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — Advertised as a path to an easy retirement, federally insured reverse mortgages are showing signs of a rebound, drawing the scrutiny of regulators seeking to reduce historically high default rates that have cost the government billions. Industry analysts expect strong growth as the housing market improves, particularly in once hard-hit Sun Belt areas including Phoenix, Miami and San Diego, Calif., and aging Americans find value in growing old in their homes. By Hope Yen. SENT: 860 words, photos.
WEALTH GAP-STATE REVENUE
WASHINGTON — Income inequality is taking a toll on state governments. The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue, according to a report by Standard & Poor's. Even as pay among the affluent has accelerated, it's barely kept pace with inflation for most other people. Wealthier people generally spend less of their income than others do. With tax revenue slowing, states face rising tensions over whether to raise taxes or cut spending to balance their budgets as required by law. By Josh Boak. SENT: 1,040 words, photo, state sidebars.
PARIS — To start hiring, French companies want fewer rules, lower payroll charges and less state involvement in their business. President Francois Hollande's government has a plan to do just that, but only if it can survive a confidence vote on Tuesday. France has the world's fifth-largest economy but is seeing no growth and unemployment has been stuck around 10 percent for half a decade. At the cost of fraying the country's social safety net, the government is going for the cuts companies say they need. Here's a look at five French businesses, the struggles they face and the hopes they have that much-delayed reforms might make it easier for them to grow and employ more people. By Lori Hinnant and Louise Dewast. SENT: 1,060 words, photos.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
NEW YORK — Investors play it safe ahead of a potentially pivotal Federal Reserve meeting. While large company stocks end the day little changed, smaller, riskier stocks slump. By Steve Rothwell. SENT: 650 words, photo.
WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing output declines in August for the first time in seven months, reflecting a sharp fall in production at auto plants. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 520 words, photo.
— WORLD ECONOMY — A major international organization cuts its growth forecast for the countries that use the euro and says the troubled currency union needs even more stimulus from the central bank and governments. SENT: 400 words, photos.
— DETROIT BANKRUPTCY — A judge refuses to extend a timeout in Detroit's bankruptcy trial after a deal with a major creditor removed another opponent from the city's plan to exit the largest Chapter 9 case in U.S. history.
PARIS — At least half of Air France flights around the world are canceled as pilots kicked off a weeklong strike, angry that the company is shifting jobs and operations to a low-cost carrier to better keep up with rivals. The company's challenges echo those faced by flagship airlines across Europe as they face tough competition from budget airlines for short-haul flights and cash-rich Gulf state carriers on long-haul routes. By Milos Krivokapic and Angela Charlton. AP Photos. SENT: 670 words, photos. Incorporates FRANCE-PILOTS STRIKE and GERMANY-LUFTHANSA STRIKE.
Gilead Sciences says it has reached a deal with several generic drugmakers to produce cheaper versions of its popular, expensive hepatitis C drug Sovaldi for use in developing countries. Gilead says the India-based companies will make a generic version of Sovaldi, also known as sofosbuvir, and another investigational drug for distribution in 91 countries. By Tom Murphy. SENT: 500 words, photos.
OLIVE GARDEN-DARDEN RESPONDS
NEW YORK — Olive Garden is defending its practice of giving customers as many breadsticks as they want, saying the policy conveys "Italian generosity." The remark is part of a response by the chain's parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., to a nearly 300-page criticism released by hedge fund Starboard Value last week. By Candice Choi. SENT: 400 words.
TIPPING HOTEL MAIDS
NEW YORK — Do you leave a tip in your hotel room for the maid? Marriott is launching a program with Maria Shriver to put envelopes in hotel rooms to encourage tipping. The campaign, called "The Envelope Please," begins this week. Envelopes will be placed in 160,000 rooms in the U.S. and Canada. So how much should you leave? Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson says $1 to $5 per night, depending on room rate, with more for a high-priced suite. By Beth Harpaz. SENT: 550 words, photo.
— UNITED-FLIGHT ATTENDANTS — United Airlines says it will offer flight attendants up to $100,000 in severance if they leave the company. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 6 p.m.
— DUBAI-HOTELS — Developers say they will build a $1.4 billion expanse of lavish suites and residences next to the famed Atlantis resort on Dubai's man-made palm-shaped island. SENT: 270 words.
— NETHERLANDS-HEINEKEN — Family-controlled brewer Heineken says it has rejected a takeover bid by rival SABMiller. In a statement issued late Sunday night, the Dutch brewer said the Heineken family informed SABMiller it intends "to preserve the heritage and identity of Heineken as an independent company." SENT: 130 words.
— FLAGSTAFF-FACTORY-FIRE — Flames from welding equipment touched off a grain-dust explosion at a Nestlé Purina plant in Flagstaff, burning two workers severely and leaving two others with less serious burns. SENT: 240 words.
— SINGAPORE-CEO DEATH — A Singapore Coroner's Court finds that the American CEO of a virtual currency exchange committed suicide earlier this year in Singapore because of work and personal issues. SENT: 180 words.
— FRANCE-FASHION-JEAN PAUL GAULTIER — The house of Jean Paul Gaultier has announced that it is stopping women's and men's ready-to-wear collections. SENT: 110 words.
— REVEL-AUCTION — A bankruptcy court judge approves a Sept. 24 auction for the failed $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City after a Florida developer offered $90 million cash for the closed building. SENT: 300 words.
— FORD-FIESTA INVESTIGATION — U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that the doors won't latch properly on some Ford Fiesta subcompact cars. SENT: 170 words.
— FRIEDRICHSHAFEN-TRW-ACQUISITION — German automotive transmission maker ZF Friedrichshafen AG is buying Michigan-based TRW Automotive for $11.74 billion, a move that creates the world's second-largest auto supplier. SENT: 430 words.
— TESLA-MALL SALES — The highest court in Massachusetts has thrown out a lawsuit aimed at blocking Tesla Motors from selling its electric cars directly to consumers. SENT: 100 words.
TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:
ALIBABA IPO-HONG KONG'S LOSS
HONG KONG — Alibaba's choice of New York over Hong Kong for its blockbuster IPO was a blow for the Chinese financial center. Now, the city's stock market is starting to rethink rules that stopped it from accommodating the Chinese e-commerce giant's unique management setup. By Kelvin Chan. SENT: 690 words, photos.
WOMEN'S CAR SERVICE
NEW YORK — Sometimes a woman can be hard to find — if you're looking for one behind the wheel of a taxi in New York City. Less than 3 percent of the city's 115,000 licensed taxi, livery and limousine drivers are women, and that can be a problem for women who are reluctant to get into a cab alone with a male driver because of safety concerns or religious and social mores. A new app called SheTaxi locates taxis with a woman behind the wheel in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island. It launched Monday and will go live on Tuesday. By Deepti Hajela. SENT: 550 words.
— APPLE-PRE-ORDERS — Apple says it had more than 4 million pre-orders of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 24 hours, exceeding its initial pre-order supply. SENT: 320 words.
— VIDEO GAMERS-SWATTING — The calls to 911 raised an instant alarm: One caller said he shot his co-workers at a Colorado video game company and had hostages. Another in Florida said her father was drunk, wielding a machine gun and threatening their family. In each case, SWAT teams dispatched to the scene found no violent criminals or wounded victims — only video game players sitting at their computers, the startled victims of a hoax known as "swatting." SENT: 760 words, photo.
— NEW ZEALAND-DOTCOM'S CAMPAIGN — Indicted Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has been drawing large, enthusiastic crowds on the campaign trail in New Zealand, even as he fights extradition attempts by the U.S. on racketeering charges over his now-shuttered file-sharing site Megaupload. SENT: 700 words, photos.
— DENMARK-TDC-GET — Danish TDC telecom group says it plans to acquire Norway's leading cable TV company Get AS, in a deal valued at 13.8 billion kroner ($2.2 billion). SENT: 130 words
— COGNIZANT-ACQUISITION — Cognizant will buy the health care software company TriZetto for $2.7 billion in cash. SENT: 180 words.
— CHINA-CELLPHONE LANE — Taking a cue from an American TV program, the Chinese city of Chongqing has created a smartphone sidewalk lane, seemingly offering a path for those too engrossed in messaging and tweeting to watch where they're going. SENT: 210 words, photos.
— FRANCE-NETFLIX LAUNCH — Video-streaming giant Netflix has launched in France as part of a push to tap six new European markets. SENT: 140 words.
BRUSSELS — If Scottish voters this week say Yes to independence, not only will they tear up the map of Great Britain, they'll shake the twin pillars of Western Europe's postwar prosperity and security — the European Union and the U.S.-led NATO defense alliance. In breaking away from the rest of the United Kingdom, Scotland would automatically find itself outside both the EU and NATO, and have to reapply to join both, officials from those Brussels-based organizations have stressed. By John-Thor Dahlburg. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.
— VENEZUELA-IMPLANT SHORTAGE — The chronic shortages of food and sundries that have plagued Venezuela now threaten a cultural cornerstone: the boob job. Beauty-obsessed Venezuelans face a lack of brand-name breast implants, according to the country's Society of Plastic Surgeons. SENT: 920 words, photos, video.
— SWEDEN-ELECTION — Sweden's Social Democrat-led bloc officially begins the struggle to form a government, a day after it ousted the center-right ruling coalition in parliamentary elections but fell short of a majority. SENT: 330 words, photo.
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What mutual fund managers like
The next time you go shopping, use your credit card. It'll make your mutual fund manager happy. That's because Visa is one of the most popular stocks among portfolio managers. A look at the most popular, and the most unloved, stocks held by large-cap mutual funds. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.