Business Highlights



Job market for college grads better but still weak

WASHINGTON (AP) — The job market for college graduates is brightening a bit.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that the unemployment rate for 2013 college graduates was 10.9 per cent. That’s down from 13.3 per cent in 2012. But unemployment for recent grads was still higher than the 9.6 per cent rate for all Americans ages 20 to 29 last October, when the government collected the numbers.

Finding work remains tough and many new graduates are settling for jobs outside their fields of study or for less pay than they’d expected. Still, Americans who have college degrees are far more likely to find employment and to earn more than those who don’t.


GM, lawyers fight over bankruptcy protections

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. and a battalion of trial lawyers are preparing for an epic court fight over whether GM is liable for the sins of its corporate past.

The company is asking a U.S. bankruptcy court to shield it from legal claims for actions that took place before the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. But lawyers who are suing GM say it shouldn’t get the usual benefits of bankruptcy protection because it concealed a deadly ignition switch problem when the court was making bankruptcy decisions.

They also say the company’s motion is part of a broader strategy to force settlements in dozens of lawsuits alleging the ignition switches caused deaths and injuries.


Internet TV case: Justices skeptical, concerned

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the Internet.

The high court heard arguments in a dispute between television broadcasters and Aereo Inc., which takes free television signals from the airwaves and charges subscribers to watch the programs on laptop computers, smartphones and TVs.

The case has the potential to bring big changes to the television industry.

There was a good measure of skepticism about Aereo’s approach. But several justices expressed concern that a ruling for the broadcasters could hamper the burgeoning world of cloud computing.


No solution in sight for China shoe factory strike

BEIJING (AP) — Workers on strike at a Chinese factory owned by the world’s largest maker of athletic shoes have rejected management’s latest offer in an ongoing labour dispute that is crimping production for brands such as Nike and Adidas.

The on-off work stoppage at Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Ltd.’s massive factory complex in southern China, which employs more than 40,000 workers, has stretched into the second week as both sides have failed to reach an agreement.

The dispute erupted over underpayments for social security and housing fund payments required by Chinese law. It has become one of the largest strikes in China’s private sector.


FDA plan would speed up medical device approvals

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration unveiled a proposal Tuesday designed to speed up development and approval of medical devices that treat life-threatening diseases and debilitating conditions.

Under the Expedited Access Program, companies developing devices for critical and unmet medical needs would get earlier access to FDA staff to discuss their products. The agency says the earlier contact with regulators should result in “earlier access to safe and effective medical devices.”

The FDA already has a fast-track program for medical devices that are well-established, such as wheelchairs and hip implants. The agency’s new proposal is intended to accelerate approval for high-risk devices, generally those that support or sustain life.


McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald’s is fighting to hold onto customers in the U.S.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain said that sales at established U.S. locations fell 1.7 per cent in the first three months of the year as guest counts declined. After a decade of consistent growth, sales also declined last year as McDonald’s struggled to roll out an array of new menu items and fend off competitors.

CEO Don Thompson said in call with investors Tuesday that the company is working to improve its operations and marketing in key regions, including the U.S.


Grieving borrowers told to repay student loan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some student loan borrowers who had a parent or grandparent co-sign the note are finding that they must immediately pay the loan in full if the relative dies.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says lenders have clauses in their contract that explain this could happen, but many borrowers are not aware of them.

The agency’s ombudsman, Rohit Chopra, said complaints related to this issue are growing more common because the practice is catching so many consumers by surprise. Some borrowers told to pay back the loan in full have been making timely payments.

While it’s unclear how prevalent it is, Chopra said it appears to be the practice among many private student loan lenders. It has also affected borrowers when the co-signer has declared bankruptcy.


Comcast 1Q earns surge on upbeat NBC results

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Comcast Corp. said Tuesday that its first-quarter net income rose by 30 per cent as ad revenue surged at broadcast network NBC, helped by the Winter Olympics in Sochi and Jimmy Fallon’s elevation as host of “The Tonight Show.”

The results beat Wall Street estimates.

Comcast is the largest cable company in the country. It is in the midst of an expected yearlong review of its $45 billion acquisition of No. 2 rival Time Warner Cable Inc. Regulators are examining whether the combination would give it undue pricing power over customers and too much leverage with programmers.


AT&T had strong 1Q on wireless installment plans

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T’s wireless business had a strong first quarter as the company added more than 1 million subscribers and benefited from an installment plan that permits frequent phone upgrades.

Although customers in the installment plan aren’t locked into traditional two-year service contracts, they pay the entire cost of phones in installments. As a result, AT&T doesn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars per customer in subsidies. In return, customers can get a new phone as often as every year instead of every other year.

The company’s first-quarter net income was $3.7 billion, or 70 cents per share, compared with $3.7 billion, or 67 cents, a year earlier, when AT&T had more shares outstanding. Adjusting for one-time items income was 71 cents per share, compared with 64 cents in the same period last year. Analysts expected 70 cents.


Google challenges nonprofits on ideas to use Glass

WASHINGTON (AP) — Google has a challenge for U.S. nonprofits.

The tech giant is asking non-profit groups to propose ideas for how to use the Web-connected eyewear Google Glass in their work. Five charities that propose the best ideas by May 20 will get a free pair of the glasses, a trip to Google for training and a $25,000 grant to help make their project a reality.

Google has already been testing it with nonprofits in their field work.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 65.12 points, or 0.4 per cent, to close at 16,514.37. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 7.66 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,879.55. The Nasdaq composite gained 39.91 points, or 1 per cent, to 4,161.46.

U.S. crude for May delivery dipped $2.24 a barrel to settle at $102.13 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline was flat at $3.10 a gallon. May heating oil lost 1 cent to $3 a gallon. Natural gas for May rose 4 cents to $4.74 per thousand cubic feet. Brent crude, an international benchmark for oil, eased 68 cents to $109.27 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

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