BC-Business News Digest

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Business News at 1:50 p.m.

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All times EDT.

TOP STORIES:

THURSDAY FOR FRIDAY

TOP STORIES:

TIM COOK COMES OUT

NEW YORK — Apple CEO Tim Cook announces that he's "proud to be gay," becoming the highest-profile business executive in the nation to publicly acknowledge his sexual orientation. Does Cook's coming out lift the stigma for other gay people in business? Or in a country where you can still be fired for being gay in more than half of states, is Cook's proclamation merely a personal triumph. By Mae Anderson and Michelle Chapman. SENT: 500 words, photos. UPCOMING: 750 words, new approach by 4 p.m.

ECONOMY-GDP

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy powered its way to a respectable growth rate of 3.5 percent between July and September, outpacing most of the developed world and on track to extend the momentum through the end of the year and beyond. The result isn't a fluke. It turns out the world's biggest economy did a lot of things right in the wake of the Great Recession that set it apart. Those key decisions, particularly by the Federal Reserve, appear to be paying off now. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 700 words. UPCOMING: 850 words by 2 p.m., photos.

HALLOWEEN-CHOCOLATE PRICES

NEW YORK — That bowl of chocolates for ninjas and ghosts won't cost you more this Halloween. Picking the perfect sweet for your Valentine could. The cost of ingredients in chocolate bars is rising, and the nation's biggest candy makers have already warned of price hikes next year. And it's not just costs that are pushing up prices. A growing sweet tooth around the world means more demand for chocolate. Here are the global trends putting pressure on the confection. By Steve Rothwell. SENT: 780 words, photos.

JAPAN-GREEN GLUT

TOKYO — Like other Japanese who were banking on this country's sweeping move toward clean energy, Junichi Oba is angry. Oba, a consultant, had hoped to supplement his future retirement income in a guilt-free way and invested $200,000 in a 50 kilowatt solar-panel facility, set up earlier this year in a former rice paddy near his home in southwestern Japan. But Kyushu Electric Power Co., the utility to which he must sell his electricity, has recently placed on hold all new applications for getting on its grid. Four other utilities have made the same announcement, throwing in doubt the future of Japan's up-to-now aggressive strategy on renewable energy. By Yuri Kageyama. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

SMART SPENDING-AVOIDING AMAZON

NEW YORK — Amazon has a place in many Americans' lives because of its low prices and seemingly endless array of goods. But the online giant's dealings with workers and suppliers and its dominance of online shopping have some customers wondering if they should throw in the towel. Here are ways to have an Amazon-like shopping experience while avoiding the behemoth itself. By Mae Anderson. SENT: 820 words.

With:

WAL-MART-PRICE MATCH

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores is considering matching online prices from competitors like Amazon.com, raising the stakes for the holiday shopping season. The strategy comes as Wal-Mart is trying to rev up sluggish sales in the U.S. but it could also erode profits. By Anne D'Innocenzio. SENT: 520 words, photo.

HAITI-TOURISM REVIVAL

COTES-DE-FER, Haiti — In any other Caribbean country, such a pristine stretch of shore would have been developed long ago. But in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the tranquil sandy beaches of the Cotes-de-Fer area is mostly uninhabited. Things may be changing radically, however. President Michel Martelly's administration wants to build Haiti's biggest tourism development here, hoping that foreign visitors can help spur an economic revival in the nation of 10 million, where most adults lack any kind of steady work and survive on less than $2 a day. By David McFadden. SENT: 750 words, photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rises slightly last week, but remains at historically low levels that signal a strengthening job market. Weekly applications increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000, the Labor Department says. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 370 words, photo, glance.

YELLEN-ECONOMISTS DIVERSITY

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she wants to raise awareness of the need for diversity among economists, with relatively few women and minorities still choosing to major in economics in college. Yellen, who is the first woman to head the central bank in its 100-year history, was speaking at a conference on diversity in the economics profession organized by the Fed and the American Economic Association. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 440 words, photos.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates arrest their five-week decline this week but the benchmark 30-year loan remais below 4 percent. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.98 percent from 3.92 percent last week. It remained at its lowest level since June 2013. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 370 words, photo.

FINANCIAL MARKETS

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks edge higher as Visa, MasterCard and other big companies turned in stronger quarterly results. By Matthew Craft. SENT: 700 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

INDUSTRY:

CHEVY GUY

DETROIT — The morning after the worst night of his life, Rikk Wilde got the phone call from his big boss at General Motors. Yes, he committed a nationally televised blooper while presenting pickup truck keys to the World Series MVP. No, he wouldn't be fired. Just a few hours earlier, a breathless and nervous Wilde forgot his presentation, and ad-libbed that the new Chevy Colorado pickup had "technology and stuff." He became an instant hit on social media, but for all the wrong reasons. But GM soon realized that rather than an embarrassing gaffe, it had a potential hit. Now the company is embracing "technology and stuff" in its social media campaign. By Tom Krisher. UPCOMING: 500 words by 2 p.m., photos.

— AIR BAG RECALL — U.S. safety regulators are now playing hardball with Takata Corp. as they investigate a possibly deadly defect in some of the Japanese company's air bags. SENT: 150 words. UPCOMING: Will be updated.

FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES-GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT

WASHINGTON — For-profit colleges that don't produce graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon face the wrath of the federal government. Schools with career-oriented programs that fail to comply with the new rule being announced by the Obama administration stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs. By Kimberly Hefling. SENT: 1,000 words.

BABY FORMULA

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators say they're suing Gerber, the well-known baby food maker, for claiming that its Good Start Gentle formula can prevent or reduce allergies in children. Gerber Products Co., also doing business as Nestlé Infant Nutrition, said it disagrees. By Anne Flaherty. SENT: 480 words.

— CHINA-CREDIT CARDS — China says it will ease restrictions on credit cards in a move that might give Visa, Mastercard and other foreign competitors greater access to the Chinese market. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 350 words, photo.

— SHRIMP-MURKY LABELING — Consumers around the nation can't be sure what kind of shrimp they're buying if they simply look at the label or menu at supermarkets, grocers and restaurants, an advocacy group says. Oceana did a DNA-based survey of shrimp sold at outlets across the U.S. and said it found about 30 percent of 143 shrimp products bought from 111 vendors were not what the label said. SENT: 610 words, photo.

— LEBRON-NIKE AD — To celebrate LeBron James' homecoming in Cleveland, Nike launched a stirring advertisement to coincide with the Cavaliers' season opener against the New York Knicks. SENT: 270 words, photos.

— STEINWAY & SONS-RELOCATION — Piano maker Steinway & Sons says it will move to a new Manhattan location next year. SENT: 140 words.

— TRANSPORTATION GRANTS — Just two months before next week's midterm elections, the Obama administration in September awarded the biggest share of almost $600 million in economic stimulus-based transportation grants to projects in districts with a Democratic congressman even though Republicans represent 34 more House districts across the country, an Associated Press analysis has found. SENT: 1,070 words, photo, glance.

— COWBOYS-OMNI — The Dallas Cowboys are partnering with Omni Hotels & Resorts to develop an upscale hotel where the team is building its new headquarters. SENT: 130 words, photo.

EARNINGS:

SKOREA-EARNS-SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS

SEOUL, South Korea — Samsung Electronics admits erring in its smartphone strategy and vowed to overhaul its handset lineup after profit from those devices tumbled last quarter to the lowest in more than three years. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 850 words, photos.

EARNS-ALTRIA

RICHMOND, Va. — Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc.'s profit rose slightly the third quarter as higher prices helped to offset decline in the number of cigarettes it sold. The owner of the nation's biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, posted earnings of $1.4 billion, or 71 cents per share. That's down slightly from the year-ago period. By Michael Felberbaum. SENT: 420 words, photo.

— EARNS-STARBUCKS — Starbucks Corp. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes. UPCOMING: 130 words after release, 500 words by 6:30 p.m.

— EARNS-MASTERCARD — MasterCard's third-quarter net income rises thanks to continued volume growth as Americans grow more confident about the economy and appear less hesitant to use credit cards. The performance beat Wall Street expectations and shares climbed more than 2 percent before the markets opened. SENT: 290 words, photo.

— EARNS-LINKEDIN — LinkedIn Corp. reports quarterly financial results after the market closes. UPCOMING: 130 words after release, 400 words by 5 p.m.

— GERMANY-EARNS-VOLKSWAGEN — Automaker Volkswagen AG says net profit jumped 56 percent in the third quarter as the company saw more sales growth in China and a slowly recovering European auto market. SENT: 330 words, photo.

— GERMANY-LUFTHANSA — German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG lowers its profit forecast for 2015 over concerns that the global economy may experience a downturn next year. SENT: 140 words.

— BRITAIN-BARCLAYS — Barclays, Britain's second biggest bank by assets, set aside 500 million pounds ($805 million) to cover possible penalties amid international probes into the alleged manipulation of foreign exchange markets. SENT: 360 words.

— NETHERLANDS-EARNS-SHELL — Shell, Europe's largest oil producer, reports a dip in third quarter profit, but said it has yet to feel the full impact of the recent slide in oil prices. SENT: 530 words.

— CHINA-EARNS-BAIDU — Chinese search engine Baidu says its quarterly profit rose 27 percent as user traffic for its mobile operation surpassed passed its desktop computer-based search business. SENT: 240 words.

— ITALY-EARNS-ENI — Italian oil giant Eni says third-quarter net profit slumped 57 percent, reflecting a one-off boost from capital gain in the same period of 2013. SENT: 140 words.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

MICROSOFT-FITNESS DATA

NEW YORK — Microsoft is releasing a $199 fitness band that also checks your email and even pays for coffee as the software company seeks to challenge Apple and others in the still-infant market for wearable devices. The Microsoft Band will work with the company's new Microsoft Health system for consolidating health and fitness data from various gadgets and mobile apps. By Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— SPAIN-GOOGLE — Spain's parliament approves new intellectual property laws that allow news publishers to charge aggregators each time they display news content in search results. SENT: 140 words.

— CHINA-LENOVO-MOTOROLA — Lenovo Group announces the completion of its acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Google in a move aimed at making the Chinese computer maker a global smartphone brand. SENT: 190 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

— GERMANY-ECONOMY — Germany's unemployment rate falls to 6.3 percent in October as the labor market in Europe's biggest economy continues to gain steam. SENT: 140 words, photo.

— SPAIN-ECONOMY — Spain's economy grows by 0.5 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, its fifth consecutive quarterly growth. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: May be updated on merits.

— UKRAINE-RUSSIA GAS — Talks to guarantee that Russian gas imports flow into rival Ukraine throughout the winter appeared to be an impasse because of doubts over payments from Kiev. SENT: 360 words, photos.

PERSONAL FINANCE:

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-REAL ESTATE FUNDS

Rising interest rates don't mean real estate mutual funds are guaranteed to lose money. Yet the possibility of a rate increase next year has investors pulling their money out, even though the funds have been among the year's best performers. Real estate funds have shown that they can post gains in a rising interest rate environment. And managers say that can happen again, though its likely returns won't be as strong as they've been this year. UPCOMING: 800 words by 6 p.m.

A sampling of Money & Markets modules is below. The full digest for AP's Money & Markets service can be found at markets.ap.org. For questions about Money & Markets content, please contact Trevor Delaney (800-845-8450, ext. 1807). For technical support: Todd Balog (816-654-1096). After 6 p.m., contact the AP Business News desk (800-845-8450, ext. 1680) for content questions; 1-800-3AP-STOX for technical support and 212-621-1905 for graphics help.

CENTERPIECE

Disney on the big screen

It's Halloween and there are plenty of kids, and adults, wearing superhero costumes. Tapping into that broad appeal helped Disney owned Marvel Studios gross more than $7 billion from its first 10 movies. This week the company announced nine more running through 2019. And don't forget that Disney owns the Lucasfilm studio and a little film called "Star Wars: Episode VII," to be released in December 2015. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Kellogg maintains guidance

Kellogg reaffirms its full-year earning guidance despite another decline in cereal sales. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

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MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA

For the week ending Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

CENTERPIECE

Earnings: Mid-season report

Nearly half of the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index have reported their third-quarter results. Here's a snapshot of the scorecard so far. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.