Business Highlights

The Associated Press 0

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Appeals court sets aside Internet neutrality rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a decision that could reshape consumers’ access to entertainment, news and other online content, a federal appeals court Tuesday set aside Federal Communications Commission rules designed to ensure that transmission of all Internet content be treated equally.

The anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules have barred broadband providers from prioritizing some types of Internet traffic over others.

A three-judge panel said that the FCC has the authority to regulate broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic. However, the judges concluded that the FCC failed to establish that its regulations don’t overreach.

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Boeing confirms new 787 battery incident

Battery problems resurfaced on Boeing’s 787 on Tuesday, after gas was discovered coming out of a battery on a plane parked in Tokyo.

Boeing said the problem on a Japan Airlines 787 was discovered during scheduled maintenance. No passengers were on board. The company said it appears that a single battery cell “vented,” or released gas.

The incident comes a year after a fire in a lithium ion battery aboard a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport. That was followed nine days later by another battery incident that forced an emergency landing in Japan by an All Nippon Airways 787.

Those problems prompted the FAA and other authorities to ground all 787s for more than three months. The planes began flying again after Boeing changed the battery system, adding a tougher box to hold the battery and measures to contain any short-circuit or fire.

Boeing said those changes appear to have worked as designed in the battery incident on Tuesday. It said it’s working with Japan Airlines to get the plane flying again.

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General Motors’ quarterly dividend is back

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. says it will resume paying a quarterly dividend, its first since the height of the financial crisis in 2008

The U.S. automaker’s CEO Dan Akerson had hinted that a dividend may be coming and the company confirmed the move Tuesday. General Motors says its dividend of 30 cents per share is payable March 28 to stockholders of record as of March 18.

The Detroit-based company says investors should share in the company’s success and that the dividend is a signal of confidence for a profitable future.

Competitor Ford Motor Co. halted its dividend payment in 2006 and resumed it in 2012.

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Holiday sales rise on discounts, online shopping

NEW YORK (AP) — Holiday shoppers were more than willing to spend during the holiday season, if they saw big discounts or were shopping online.

Sales rose 3.8 per cent from last year for November and December combined, according to the National Retail Federation’s analysis of federal figures. That was a healthy gain in a season that kept merchants worried right up until Christmas as people held off on spending.

That caution and increased online shopping made the holiday less festive at the mall. Shoppers stayed away from many traditional destinations like department stores and electronics stores.

The sales increase came in just shy of the trade group’s forecast of a 3.9 per cent gain. It was better than the 3.5 per cent increase in 2012 and the 3.3 per cent average for the past 10 years.

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US businesses boost stockpiles 0.4 pct in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies built up their stockpiles in November as their sales improved. Continued growth in inventories suggests businesses believe consumers will increase spending in the months ahead.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that business stockpiles grew 0.4 per cent in November. That follows a strong 0.8 per cent gain in October. Sales increased 0.8 per cent in November after a 0.5 per cent gain the previous month.

Rising stockpiles should help keep economic growth solid in the October-December quarter. Several economists project growth at a 3 per cent annual rate in that period after a 4.1 per cent rate in the previous quarter. Greater restocking boosts growth because it requires more factory production.

Retailers led much of the gains in inventories ahead of the holiday shopping season. Wholesalers also increased their stockpiles. Stockpiling by manufacturers was flat.

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DirecTV customers lose The Weather Channel

LOS ANGELES (AP) — About 20 million DirecTV customers nationwide lost The Weather Channel because of a dispute over fees between the channel and the satellite service.

The two companies pointed fingers at each other late Monday as a midnight deadline for renegotiation of carriage fees paid by DirecTV to The Weather Channel passed without an agreement.

In a statement, David Kenny, CEO of the channel’s parent company, The Weather Co., said it offered DirecTV the best rate for its programming. Kenny accused the satellite provider of putting profits ahead of public safety.

DirecTV called the loss of The Weather Channel “regrettable” but added that it would continue to provide weather news on its WeatherNation channel.

According to a statement from Dan York, DirecTV chief content officer, the two sides haven’t stopped talking.

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GM global sales hit 9.7M last year, beats VW

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors sold 9.71 million cars and trucks last year, probably not enough to beat out Toyota for the global sales crown, but about 200,000 better than Volkswagen.

Toyota, the sales champion in 2012, will report its sales next week. It only needs to show a little growth to beat GM again.

GM said Tuesday that sales of light vehicles worldwide grew 4 per cent in 2013, led by growth in China and the United Kingdom. The company’s sales in China rose 11 per cent to set a record. U.S. sales were up 7 per cent, slightly below the market’s growth of nearly 8 per cent.

Volkswagen said Monday that it sold 9.5 million light vehicles last year, setting a company record for overall sales.

Toyota sold roughly 9.7 million cars and trucks in 2012, recapturing the lead it ceded to GM in 2011.

GM was the top-selling carmaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. But GM retook the sales crown in 2011 when Toyota’s factories were slowed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The disaster left Toyota dealers with few cars to sell. The Japanese company has since recovered.

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Beanie Babies creator gets probation, no prison

CHICAGO (AP) — The billionaire creator of Beanie Babies was sentenced to two years of probation, but no prison time, on Tuesday for tax evasion on $25 million in income he had stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.

H. Ty Warner, 69, appeared sombre but composed as he made a brief statement before receiving his sentence in a Chicago federal courtroom, apologizing and saying he felt “shame and embarrassment” for what he had done.

He could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison, and prosecutors were seeking prison time for Warner, who pleaded guilty last year to a single tax evasion count.

U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, however, sentenced Warner to probation and 500 hours of community service, praising the toy magnate for the charity work he’s done.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average closed

Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery rose 79 cents to close at $92.59 a barrel in New York. Wholesale gasoline was down 1.2 cents to close at $2.622 a gallon. Natural gas rose 9.5 cents to close at $4.369 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 0.3 cents to close at $2.936 a gallon. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude used by many U.S. refineries, fell 86 cents to close at $106.39 in London.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 115.92 points, or 0.7 per cent, to close at 16,373.86. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 19.68 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 1,838.88. The Nasdaq composite index rose 69.71 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 4,183.02.

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