Business Highlights

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Mimicking the airlines, hotels get fee-happy

NEW YORK (AP) — May travellers are seeing a quickly growing list of hotel surcharges, even for items they never use.

Guaranteeing two queen beds or one king bed will cost you, as will checking in early or checking out late. Don’t need the in-room safe? You’re likely still paying. And the overpriced can of soda may be the least of your issues with the hotel minibar.

Vacationers are finding it harder to anticipate the true cost of their stay, especially because many of these charges vary from hotel to hotel, even within the same chain.

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Hard to swallow? Burger King may move to Canada

NEW YORK (AP) — Some Burger King customers are finding it hard to swallow that the home of the Whopper could move to Canada.

Investors seemed to welcome the announcement by Burger King late Sunday that it was in talks to buy Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons and create the world’s third-largest fast-food restaurant company.

But customers were already voicing their discontent with the 60-year-old hamburger chain because of its plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from Miami to Canada in a deal that could lower its taxes.

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Businesses: Quake cleanup shouldn’t deter tourists

NAPA, Calif. (AP) — Businesses in California’s wine capital are mopping up thousands of dollars in high-end vintages and sweeping glass from ghostly downtown streets that officials hope will soon bustle again with tourists following the San Francisco Bay Area’s strongest earthquake in 25 years.

With the dust still settling from Sunday’s magnitude-6.0 quake that struck Napa County, local officials estimated Monday that Napa Valley suffered $1 billion in property damage, including the wineries where the quake smashed bottles and overturned wine barrels.

Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd says that since 80 per cent of the region’s 500 wineries were unaffected, the long-term economic impact to businesses should be modest.

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Whisky’s worries mirror economic fears in Scotland

ISLAY, Scotland (AP) — It’s said that Scotch tastes of the place where it is made, so Reavey’s Bruichladdich Black Art single malt would offer a touch of barley, a splash of the sea, and a whiff of salt from the island of Islay, 140 miles west of Glasgow.

That taste takes time — a long time — to produce, with top-rated Scotch aged for decades. And it means distilleries need to have long-term plans for investments and financing — all of which could be thrown into turmoil in a single day, Sept. 18, when Scotland votes on whether to leave Britain.

Whisky makers and other businesses are worried about the risks involved in finding themselves in a new country with, among other things, a different currency.

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Legal questions arise for fantasy day game biz

Some of the newest incarnations of fantasy football look a lot more like gambling than intricate, outsmart-your-opponent strategy games.

Since 2011, the billion-dollar fantasy market has been infused with dozens of daily and weekly games. Those games allow players to win huge prizes quickly, sometimes in one week, sometimes in just one night. With players betting thousands or even tens of thousands a night, legal experts believe it’s time to review the section of the 2006 federal law that was written specifically to protect fantasy sports from being banned the way online poker was.

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Amazon to buy video game streaming platform Twitch

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is buying video game streaming platform Twitch Interactive for $970 million in cash as it seeks to expand its presence in gaming.

As video gaming grows into an online spectator sport, gameplay video feeds are becoming increasingly lucrative. Twitch had 55 million unique visitors in July, most of whom went to the Twitch.tv website to watch other people play games —competitions interspersed with advertising.

The deal is the latest example of Amazon expanding into new commercial arenas. It introduced its own smartphone, the Fire, this month. Earlier this summer, it added same-day delivery, a set-top video streaming device to its list of services for members of Prime, its $99 annual loyalty program.

Amazon already has an in-house gaming studio that makes games, and its Fire TV set top box was designed to attract gamers.

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Sales of US new homes fall in July

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans bought new homes in July, evidence that the housing sector is struggling to gain traction more than five years into the economic recovery.

The Commerce Department said Monday that new-home sales fell 2.4 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 412,000. The report also revised up the June sales rate to 422,000 from 406,000.

Inventory of new homes on the market rose to six months, a level last reached in October 2011. The median price of a new home last month was $269,800, up 2.9 per cent over the past 12 months.

But the steady rebound in construction coming out of the Great Recession has stalled.

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Talk of ECB action grows as European economy fades

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Worries about the economy are rippling through Europe.

Downbeat data have pushed the European Central Bank closer to more drastic action to keep the hesitant recovery from stalling completely.

Meanwhile, open feuding in the French government about how to break out of economic stagnation saw President Francois Hollande dissolve the cabinet and order Prime Minister Manuel Valls to form a new team.

Concerns had grown so strong that by Monday investors were willing to bet that the ECB will intervene with new stimulus measures, based on comments late Friday by bank President Mario Draghi. Stocks in Europe rallied.

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Cops called after fliers fight over seat recline

NEW YORK (AP) — Airline passengers have come to expect a tiny escape from the confined space of today’s packed planes: the ability to recline their seat a few inches. When one passenger was denied that bit of personal space Sunday, it led to a heated argument and the unscheduled landing of their plane, just halfway to its destination.

The fight started on a United Airlines flight because one passenger was using the Knee Defender, a $21.95 gadget that attaches to a passenger’s tray table and prevents the person in front of them from reclining.

The Federal Aviation Administration leaves it up to individual airlines to set rules about the device. United Airlines said it prohibits use of the device, like all major U.S. airlines.

The dispute on United Flight 1462 from Newark, New Jersey to Denver escalated to the point where the airline decided to divert to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, according to Transportation Security Administration spokesman Ross Feinstein.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75.65 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 17,076.87. The S&P 500 added 9.52 points, or 0.5 per cent, to close at 1,997.92. The Nasdaq composite gained 18.80 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,557.35.

Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 30 cents to close at $93.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 36 cents to close at $102.65 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 0.7 cent to close at $2.595 a gallon. Natural gas rose 9.7 cents to close at $3.937 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 0.7 cent to close at $2.842 a gallon.

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