Business Highlights


CEO pay in 2015: When a $468,449 raise is typical

NEW YORK (AP) — CEOs at the biggest companies got a 4.5 per cent pay raise last year. That’s almost double the typical American worker’s, and a lot more than investors earned from owning their stocks — a big fat zero.

The typical chief executive in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index made $10.8 million, including bonuses, stock awards and other compensation, according to a study by executive data firm Equilar for The Associated Press.

The raise alone for median CEO pay last year, $468,449, is more than 10 times what the typical U.S. worker makes in a year.


A wrestler, a website and maybe a billionaire go to the mat

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Is Hulk Hogan’s courtroom cage match with Gawker being bankrolled by a high-tech billionaire with a grudge against the news-and-gossip site?

Two months after Hogan won a $140 million invasion-of-privacy verdict against Gawker for posting a sex tape of him, news reports say the pro wrestler is secretly backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, was outed as gay by a Gawker-owned website in 2007, and the Gawker empire has run a number of stories skewering Facebook.


US probes e-commerce giant Alibaba’s accounting practices

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba wowed investors when it went public in the U.S. in September 2014, and its profits have bucked Wall Street expectations amid the Chinese economy’s slowdown. Yet its unorthodox business structure has raised eyebrows, it’s been suspended from an anti-counterfeiting group, and now U.S. regulators are investigating its accounting practices.

Alibaba disclosed in a regulatory filing that the Securities and Exchange Commission has requested documents and information related to the way it adds together earnings from its various divisions, and how it reports transactions with other companies it has a stake in, among other things.


Group of 7 seeks way forward for aging, faltering economies

ISE, Japan (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations plan to voice unity over fighting terrorism, pandemics and tax evasion at their summit in Japan this week. Finding a consensus on how to breathe life into their sluggish economies is proving more elusive.

Aging workforces, sagging productivity and lingering damage from the 2008 financial crisis are complicating efforts to spur growth. And ahead of the summit meetings that begin Thursday, finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-7 meeting agree the world’s have failed to agree on a co-ordinated approach to solve the malaise.


Military spouses struggle to find jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Military spouses struggle to find jobs and are more likely to work for less pay or in positions below their education level, spurring unemployment and other costs of as much as $1 billion a year, according to a study.

Wrestling with frequent moves, deployments and erratic schedules of their service member mates, military spouses have an unemployment rate of up to 18 per cent, compared to last month’s national jobless rate of 5 per cent.

The latest study was commissioned by Blue Star Families, a group that co-ordinates services for families with a loved one who is currently serving or has served in the military.


Most American households doing better financially

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most American households say their finances have strengthened slightly, but nearly half report that they would struggle to meet $400 in expenses from an unexpected emergency, according to the Federal Reserve’s annual survey on economic well-being.

The latest survey found that 69 per cent of those responding reported that they were either “living comfortably” or “doing ok.”

However, 31 per cent, or approximately 76 million adults, said they were either “struggling to get by” or were “just getting by.” And 22 per cent of workers were working two or more jobs to make ends meet.


TSA chief: Help is on the way to address long airport lines

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Transportation Security Administration will add 768 new screeners by mid-June to deal with increasingly long airport security lines that have caused passengers to miss flights even before the busy summer travel season, the agency’s chief told Congress on Wednesday.

Most of the new screeners will be sent to the nation’s busiest airports, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger told a House committee.

The TSA also has increased the use of overtime in major airports, converted some part-time workers to full-time status and increased the use of bomb-sniffing dogs to help with security lines.


Energy companies lead the way as US stocks keep rising

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks climbed Wednesday as investors continued to recover some confidence in the health of the global economy. That sent oil prices higher and gave energy companies a boost, while materials companies also climbed higher.

Expecting stronger demand for fuel and materials used in industry and construction, investors bought stock in energy and mining and chemicals companies. U.S. stocks had jumped Tuesday after a strong report on home sales.


Casino magnate Wynn envisions water paradise in dry Nevada

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Casino magnate Steve Wynn latest vision: a project called Paradise Park that is anchored by a 38-acre, man-made lake built on the site of a current golf course.

One problem — the extravagant water paradise would be located in drought-stricken Nevada. But Wynn argues that despite being the size of nearly 100 Olympic swimming pools, the lake is a more conservative use of water for the resort.

Some are skeptical about the project’s environmental claims and question the ethics of such unnatural water use at a time when drought has parched the West.


Ford recalls 271K pickups to fix brake fluid leak

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling some of its top-selling vehicles in the U.S. to fix a fluid leak that can reduce braking power. The recall covers about 271,000 F-150 pickups in North America from the 2013 and 2014 model years that have 3.5-litre V6 engines.

Ford says brake fluid can leak from the master cylinder. That could reduce the ability of the front brakes to stop the trucks. The company reports nine alleged crashes with no injuries, but one person said they suffered a knee injury while applying the brakes.


Microsoft cuts more jobs in troubled mobile unit

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft said Wednesday it will cut up to 1,850 jobs and take a $950 million hit to its books as it attempts to salvage its rocky entrance into the smartphone market.

The company acquired Nokia’s phone business in 2014, hoping to expand its share of the fast-growing mobile tech industry. But by last summer it had slashed the value of that business severely and eliminated 26,000 jobs.

After it failed to gain traction with the Nokia venture, CEO Satya Nadella has pursued a different strategy: pushing Microsoft to make its flagship Windows operating system and other popular software programs work on a variety of devices.


The Dow Jones industrial average gained 145.46 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 17,851.51. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 14.48 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 2,090.54. The Nasdaq composite index rose 33.84 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 4,894.89.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 94 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to $49.56 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose $1.13, or 2.3 per cent, to $49.74 a barrel in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.64 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.51 a gallon. Natural gas picked up 1 cent to $1.99 per 1,000 cubic feet.