Business Highlights


Apple stakes new claim to living room, shows new iPhones

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple staked a new claim to the living room on Wednesday, as the maker of iPhones and other hand-held gadgets unveiled an Internet TV system that’s designed as a beachhead for the tech giant’s broader ambitions to deliver a wide range of information, games, music and video to the home.

CEO Tim Cook and other executives also showed off two new iPhone models, a plus-sized iPad with detachable keyboard and updated software for the Apple Watch during an exhaustive, two-hour event in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

Apple is counting on sales of the new iPhones to maintain its position as one of the most profitable, and valuable, companies in the world.

But it’s the new Apple TV system that some analysts point to as an important step for the company as Cook attempts to build a business that doesn’t rely so heavily on the iPhone.


Retail clinics, apps change doctor-patient relationship

Tom Coote suspected the stabbing pain in his abdomen was serious, but the harried doctor at the urgent care centre suggested it was merely indigestion.

Coote also suspected that his recently retired family physician would have taken more time to diagnose what turned out to be appendicitis.

Coote’s experience reflects a wider change in American medicine: A shortage of primary care physicians and emerging alternatives such as retail clinics and smartphone apps are clouding the once-simple doctor-patient relationship, which for generations has served as the gateway to the U.S. health care system.


McDonald’s to switch to cage-free eggs over next decade

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald’s says it will switch to cage-free eggs in the U.S. and Canada over the next decade, marking the latest push under CEO Steve Easterbrook to try and reinvent the Big Mac maker as a “modern, progressive burger company.”

Under pressure to revive slumping sales, McDonald’s has already announced a number of changes since Easterbrook stepped into his role earlier this year. In March, the Oak Brook, Illinois, company said it would switch to chickens raised without most antibiotics. And in April, it said it would raise pay for workers at company-owned stores, which represent about 10 per cent of its domestic locations.


Why US job openings are surging, while hiring plods

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies are advertising a lot more jobs. But when it comes to filling them, many remain cautious.

Job openings soared 8 per cent to 5.75 million in July, the most since records began in 2000, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, total hiring slipped to just below 5 million, from nearly 5.2 million in June. The figure suggests that many businesses are having trouble finding people with the skills they need.


Survey: US more competitive globally, but inequality a risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Income inequality will remain a persistent problem despite brighter prospects for U.S. companies globally, according to an annual survey of Harvard Business School alumni.

Fifty-eight per cent of the respondents said they thought the U.S. economy would either become more competitive or at least hold its ground against other countries over the next three years, a marked improvement from 2011 when just 29 per cent felt that way.


Taxe quirk forces Colorado to waive pot taxes for a day

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s unusual tax law is forcing the state to suspend taxes on recreational marijuana for one day.

The sales-tax break on Sept. 16 will shave $20 off the price of a mid-grade ounce of pot in the Denver area, where ounces this summer sell for about $200 before tax.

It’s unusual for a state that has many times rejected sales-tax holidays on things like school supplies, clothing or energy-efficient appliances. Officials say it could cost the state $3 million to $4 million.


In a 1st, New York to require salt warnings on eatery menus

NEW YORK (AP) — Some sub sandwiches, movie theatre pretzels and even milkshakes and salads will soon come with a first-of-its-kind salt warning symbol in New York City after officials agreed Wednesday to stake out new ground in a national push for healthier eating habits.

The city Board of Health voted unanimously to require chain eateries to put salt-shaker emblems on menus to denote dishes with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That’s about a teaspoon.


Bummer … Quiksilver files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in US

NEW YORK (AP) — Quiksilver, a ubiquitous clothing brand at surfing hot spots from the U.S. to Australia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its U.S. division.

The brand, founded in 1969 in Australia, enlisted a stable of huge names to represent its image over the years, including surfers Kelly Slater and Tom Carroll.

Yet after what turned out to be its golden decade in the 1990s, Quiksilver has faced rising competition, particularly in the U.S.


Lockheed Martin to cut 500 information systems jobs

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Lockheed Martin is eliminating about 500 jobs from its Information Systems & Global Solutions segment, as the defence contractor adjusts to changing government priorities and tries to sharpen its competitiveness.

The aerospace and defence company employs about 112,000 people globally, so the cuts amount to less than 1 per cent of its total workforce.

The Bethesda, Maryland, company said Wednesday the reductions will include voluntary and involuntary layoffs and will be completed by mid-November.


Deal gives Fox majority stake in National Geographic media

WASHINGTON (AP) — The 127-year-old non-profit National Geographic Society has struck a $725 million deal that gives 21st Century Fox a majority stake in National Geographic magazine and other media properties, expanding an existing TV partnership.

The agreement announced Wednesday will give the company controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s family a 73 per cent stake in the new National Geographic Partners venture. The society retains 27 per cent ownership. The move shifts the longtime non-profit flagship magazine into a for-profit venture.


Plans for Tokyo Olympics marred by stadium mess, logo fuss

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s ambitions for a trouble-free 2020 Tokyo Olympics to showcase the country’s economic revival are facing an unexpected obstacle course as planners lurch from one fiasco to the next.

The 2020 games were dubbed the clinching “fourth arrow” of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ambitious strategy to restore Japan’s star stature after two decades of economic doldrums. But instead of burnishing the country’s image, the glitches so far have tarnished it.

Last week, organizers scrapped their Olympics logo, saying it was withdrawn by the designer due to allegations of plagiarism. That followed Abe’s decision in July to drop a gargantuan new national stadium design that critics likened to a bicycle helmet, reducing the project to cut its cost by over a third, to a still-whopping 155 billion yen ($1.3 billion).


Puerto Rico unveils fiscal reform plan, braces for cuts

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico is bracing for widespread spending cuts after the government released a long-awaited fiscal reform plan on Wednesday that would reduce much of the island’s $72 billion public debt and calls for restructuring the remainder at the expense of bondholders.

The five-year plan proposes that the government cut subsidies to municipalities and the University of Puerto Rico, offer early retirement and reorganize or merge state agencies. It also calls on the government to extend until 2021 legislation that would freeze new hires, salary increases and collective bargaining agreements.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average ended 239.11 points, or 1.5 per cent, lower at 16,253.57. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 27.37 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 1,942.04. The Nasdaq composite fell 55.40 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 4,756.53.

U.S. crude fell $1.79 to close at $44.15 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.94 to close at $47.58 in London, reversing Monday’s steep decline. Wholesale gasoline fell 4.2 cents to close at $1.360 a gallon. Heating oil fell 5.5 cent to close at $1.539 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5.9 cents to close at $2.651 per 1,000 cubic feet.