BC-APFN-Business News Digest

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Business News at 1:30 p.m.

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All times EST.

TOP STORIES:

CHINA-THE NEW NORMAL

GUJIAO, China — From coal country to the export-driven manufacturing heartland of China's southeast, millions of people are enduring wrenching change. Beijing is trying to replace an economic model that has run out of steam after delivering years of blistering growth based on trade and investment in construction and heavy industry. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 940 words, photos.

GOOGLE-SAFE BROWSING

SAN FRANCISCO — Google ramps up safe-browsing technology — instead of a pop-up warning you that a website is unsafe, your screen will turn red. By Michael Liedtke. SENT: 480 words, photo.

CHINA-APPLE WATCH LOOKALIKES

BEIJING — A month before Apple Inc.'s smartwatch hits the market, China's thriving copycat manufacturers are selling lookalikes, some openly advertised as Apple copies. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 540 words, photos.

SMALLBIZ-WHEN YOUR PRODUCT GOES VIRAL

NEW YORK — Whether it's a news story, a tweet from a celebrity or a review that gets passed around so much that it goes viral, instant social media fame can catapult sales of a product. For small businesses that have unexpectedly stumbled into the spotlight, the sudden attention can create short-term sweat that builds into longer-term success. By Joseph Pisani. SENT: 910 words, photos.

3 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT HBO NOW

SAN FRANCISCO — HBO's stand-alone streaming service is launching in a few weeks. Here are some things to know before you rush out to cancel your cable or satellite service. By Anick Jesdanun. SENT: 630 words, photo and interactive quiz.

With:

Related Interactive: Are you even ready to cut the cord? Take our quiz to find out. http://interactives.ap.org/2015/cutting-cable/

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

FINANCIAL MARKETS

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rise, led by gains in financial companies after a number of banks get approval from the Federal Reserve to raise dividends and buy back shares. By Steve Rothwell. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

ECONOMY

WASHINGTON — For a second year, harsh winter weather has kept Americans from shopping centers, slowed home sales and weighed on U.S. economic growth. At the same time, the strengthening job market and low gas prices suggest that the slowdown will likely prove temporary, just as it did last year. By Christopher S. Rugaber. UPCOMING: 800 words by 2 p.m. Incorporates BC-US--Retail Sales and BC-US--Unemployment Benefits.

BUSINESS INVENTORIES

WASHINGTON —U.S. businesses did not add to their stockpiles for a second straight month in January as total business sales fell by the largest amount in nearly six years. By Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 340 words.

NET WORTH

WASHINGTON — Fueled by higher stock and home values, Americans' net worth reached a record high in the final three months of 2014. Total household wealth rose 1.9 percent during the October-December quarter to nearly $83 trillion. The typical household didn't benefit much, though. Most of the wealth remains concentrated among richer families. By Christopher S. Rugaber. SENT: 140 words. UPCOMING: 650 words by 3 p.m.

— BUDGET DEFICIT — The Treasury Department releases federal budget data for February. In January, the federal government ran a bigger budget deficit, pushing the imbalance up 6.2 percent from a year ago. By Martin Crutsinger. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of report at 2 p.m. 350 words by 2:45 p.m.=

— MORTGAGE RATES —Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week yet remained near historic lows reached in May 2013. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 350 words.

INDUSTRY:

AIR BAGS-HONDA

DETROIT — Honda is launching an unprecedented U.S. ad campaign urging owners to get vehicles that have been recalled for safety problems repaired. By Dee-Ann Durbin. SENT: 310 words.

23ANDME-DRUG RESEARCH

WASHINGTON — Google-backed genetic testing company 23andMe is launching its own drug development unit, betting that it can translate its database of customer DNA information into novel medicines. By Matthew Perrone. SENT: 720 words.

EGG INDUSTRY-CAMPAIGN

NEW YORK — The egg industry is ordering up a side of Kevin Bacon. The American Egg Board says it plans to launch a print and online ad campaign this week featuring the "Footloose" actor and puns using his last name. The group says it's the first time it's using a Hollywood celebrity in a major marketing push. By Candice Choi. SENT: 540 words.

— VEGAS NIGHTCLUB-OMNIA — Not willing to shell out a premium for a VIP nightclub experience? No problem, says the man opening the newest megaclub on the Las Vegas Strip. SENT: 140 words.

— SUPERSTORM-FLOOD CLAIMS — FEMA to review every Sandy flood insurance claim — nearly 144,000 — amid fraud allegations. SENT: 140 words.

— FRANCE-YOGURT CARTEL — France's competition authority handed the country's top yogurt makers 192 million euros ($203 million) in fines for fixing prices over the course of several years. SENT: 570 words.

— ROMANIA-HEINEKEN — A small beer manufacturer in Romania has won a lawsuit against Heineken, which sued it for using a brand name it says it is too similar to a local brew it produces. SENT: 130 words.

— VIRGIN CRUISES-LAWSUIT — Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says a $300 million lawsuit filed against the company by a former cruise line executive has no merit. SENT: 130 words.

— VOLKSWAGEN-PROFIT SHARING — Volkswagen AG says its workers based in Germany are getting 5,900 euros ($6,250) each in profit-sharing bonuses that reflect the company's strong 2014. SENT: 130 words.

— IRS-TAX SCAMS — Fake IRS agents have targeted more than 366,000 people with harassing phone calls demanding payments and threatening jail as part of a huge nationwide tax scam. SENT: 560 words.

— NFL-LOS ANGELES — Friction between organized labor and the developers of a potential NFL stadium in the Los Angeles suburbs threatened Thursday to tangle up the project even before construction started. SENT: 340 words.

— LUMBER LIQUIDATORS — Retailer Lumber Liquidators says it stands by its products and will pay for the safety testing of laminate floors for qualifying customers. SENT: 450 words.

— TOBACCO -LEGAL AGE — Raising the legal age to buy tobacco to higher than 18 would likely prevent premature death for hundreds of thousands of people, according to a report issued Thursday by the Institute of Medicine. SENT: 570 words.

— SUPERBUG OUTBREAK-FDA — Federal health officials will meet in May to review problems with the design and cleaning of specialized medical instruments linked to at least two recent "superbug" outbreaks. SENT: 490 words.

— COCA-COLA-EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION — Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent was given a pay package worth $18.1 million last year after the world's biggest beverage company failed to meet its own growth targets. SENT: 490 words.

— GERMANY-EARNS-BMW — Luxury car maker BMW says record sales in 2014 helped it post a solid 9.2 percent increase in full-year profit. SENT: 250 words.

— COMMERZBANK-US SANCTIONS — Germany's Commerzbank AG is paying $1.71 billion in agreements with U.S. and New York authorities for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against countries including Iran and lapses in prevention of money laundering. SENT: 140 words.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

INTEL-OUTLOOK

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Intel is lowering its first-quarter revenue forecast, partly because of softer-than-expected demand for business desktop PCs. SENT: 340 words.

— DISNEY SHAREHOLDER MEETING — Disney shareholders will vote on whether to separate the positions of Chairman and CEO after current CEO Robert Iger leaves, and whether to limit executive pay hikes, at the entertainment company's annual meeting. UPCOMING: 400 words by 4 p.m., photo.

— ARE UBER DRIVERS EMPLOYEES? — Two San Francisco federal court judges say juries will decide if California drivers for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft are employees or independent contractors. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m., photos.

— NOKIA MAPS-APPLE — Nokia started providing mapping services for free download in Apple's App Store, after a successful launch of the service on Android devices. SENT: 130 words.

— ABC-YAHOO — ABC and Yahoo announced an expansion Thursday of their working relationship beyond their news divisions to include content from ABC entertainment programming. SENT: 170 words.

— STANDARD REGISTER-BANKRUPTCY — Standard Register is filing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, and the printing and communications consultant says it has lined up a sale to Silver Point Capital. SENT: 130 words.

— CUBA-INTERNET — Cuba has allowed the launch of the island's first known free, public and officially sanctioned Internet service at a Havana cultural center that quietly began offering open Wi-Fi in recent weeks. SENT: 460 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

EUROPE-ECONOMIC STIMULUS

FRANKFURT, Germany — A leading dissenter from the European Central Bank's trillion-euro stimulus says the program wasn't needed to ward off chronic deflation and takes pressure off governments to carry out key budget and economic reforms. By David Mchugh. SENT: 450 words, photo.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

FRANKFURT, Germany — Annual news conference by Jens Weidmann, head of Germany's central bank and an opponent of the bank's stimulus program. By David McHugh. UPCOMING: 130 words by 7 a.m.

— TSB-SABADELL — Spain's Banco Sabadell has made a 1.7 billion-pound ($2.6 billion) cash offer to buy Britain's TSB, which last year split off from bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group. SENT: 130 words

— ANDORRA-BANK INTERVENTION — The entire board of Spain's Banco de Madrid, a lender catering to wealthy clients, resigned after its Andorran owner was accused by the U.S. of money laundering for clients from China, Russia and Venezuela. SENT: 380 words, photo.

— EGYPT-LABOR FEARS — Days before Egypt holds a major economic conference to attract foreign investors, scores of workers held the latest in a string of protests outside government offices in Cairo, complaining they had not been paid for months. SENT: 1245 words, photos.

— GERMANY-STRIKES— German public service workers are on strike again as their union seeks to increase pressure on the government ahead of a new round of wage negotiations next week. SENT: 130 words, photo.

— SKOREA-ECONOMY — South Korea unexpectedly lowered its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 1.75 percent. SENT: 450 words, photos.

— GREECE-BAILOUT — Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says his government will continue to repay its creditors even if it doesn't get part of a rescue loan pending the outcome of current bailout talks. SENT: 130 words.

— EGYPT-ECONOMY — The Egyptian president issues a decree adopting a package of investment laws for the country, aimed at removing obstacles and offering incentives to foreign investors. SENT: 140 words.

PERSONAL FINANCE:

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS Q&A

Audrey Choi, CEO of Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing, talks about the move within the industry to offer more mutual funds that look to invest with an eye toward the environment or society at large. By Stan Choe. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 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

Checking in on chicken

Between antibiotics and Avian flu, chicken is not having a good p.r. moment. A look at the stocks of the major poultry producers. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

Shake Shack disappoints

Burger chain Shake Shack posted a loss for its first quarter as a publicly traded company. UPCOMING: Graphic expected by 6 p.m.