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NRA, Florida face backlash after latest school shooting

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 10:13:56 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Rifle Association, and now the State of Florida, faced a growing backlash Saturday as companies cut ties to the gun industry following the latest school massacre, and student survivors called for tourism boycotts of their home state until gun control measures are enacted. The latest companies to end their ties with the NRA were Delta and United Airlines, two of the three largest U.S.-based airlines. Corporate ties to the NRA aren't the only elements undergoing scrutiny after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead on Valentine's Day.



Abu Dhabi hosts international trade show of military drones

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 08:31:58 UT

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates is hosting a stand-alone trade show featuring military drones, showing the power these weapons have across the Middle East. The Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference is being held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Top UAE officials, including Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were on hand for the event, which opened on Sunday. Among the top companies in attendance was General Atomics, a San Diego-based defense contractor known for its Predator drones. The UAE previously purchased some $200 million worth of surveillance-only Predator drones. Also on hand was Chinese firm Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.



Investor Warren Buffett says good deals tough to find

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 21:14:59 UT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Investor Warren Buffett says Wall Street's lust for deals has prompted CEOs to act like oversexed teenagers and overpay for acquisitions, so it has been hard to find deals for Berkshire Hathaway. In his annual letter to shareholders Saturday, Buffett mixed investment advice with details of how Berkshire's many businesses performed. Buffett blamed his recent acquisition drought on ambitious CEOs who have been encouraged to take on debt to finance pricey deals. "If Wall Street analysts or board members urge that brand of CEO to consider possible acquisitions, it's a bit like telling your ripening teenager to be sure to have a normal sex life," Buffett said.



Berkshire Hathaway says tax law gives it $29B boost in 4Q

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 20:48:36 UT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Berkshire Hathaway's fourth-quarter profit more than quadrupled as it received a $29 billion boost from the new tax law that easily offset any weakness in the company's businesses. Berkshire said Saturday it earned $32.6 billion, or $13.19 per Class B share, in the fourth quarter because of the tax law changes. That compares with $6.3 billion, or $2.55 per B share, a year ago. Most of Berkshire's 90-odd businesses reported improving profits in the quarter, but the company's key insurance units, which include Geico and several major reinsurance companies, reported a $491 million loss on policy underwriting. That compares with $548 million gain the previous year.



The Latest: Warren Buffett's letter leaves some wanting more

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 17:02:44 UT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Latest on investor Warren Buffett's annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders (all times local): 10:30 a.m. Warren Buffett's annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders is always well read in the business world, but this year's edition may leave some investors wanting more. Buffett recounted Berkshire's performance in his letter that was released Saturday morning and some noteworthy topics didn't get much attention. Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan says he expected Buffett to devote more of the letter to explaining his decision to promote and name the top two candidates to eventually succeed him as Berkshire's CEO.



Dropbox seeking to raise $500 million in stock market debut

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:36:04 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — One of the world's largest online services for backing up documents, photos and other video is opening its files in an initial public offering of stock. Dropbox is hoping to raise $500 million in an IPO that comes 11 years after it started in San Francisco. The company confidentially filed for its IPO in October, but the information didn't become publicly available until Friday. The filing reveals Dropbox has lost more than $1 billion since its inception. That includes a loss of $112 million on revenue of $1.1 billion last year. Dropbox boasts about 500 million registered users, but most of them don't pay for its service.



Warren Buffett is stepping down from Kraft Heinz board

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:05:20 UT

CHICAGO (AP) — Warren Buffett is stepping down from the board of directors of Kraft Heinz Co. The Chicago-based food and beverage giant says the 87-year-old billionaire investor will retire from its board when his term ends in April as he moves to cut back on travel. Buffett is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a conglomerate based in Omaha, Nebraska. Kraft Heinz said its board will nominate Alexandre Van Damme to take Buffett's seat. Van Damme is also a board member of Anheuser-Busch Inbev and Restaurant Brands International.



Former Mariners great drops price on multimillion-dollar home

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:00:00 UT

Randy Johnson owns a desert mansion that's been languishing on the market since September 2014. He just reduced the price by an additional $3 million.



More companies end ties with NRA as pressure mounts

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:34:40 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Three more companies said Friday they had ended discount programs with the National Rifle Association, as U.S. corporations take a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry after the latest school massacre. Petitions are circulating online targeting companies that offer discounts to NRA members on its website. #BoycottNRA has trended on Twitter. Members of the NRA have access to special offers from partner companies on its website, ranging from life insurance to wine clubs.



Fed expects economic gains to prompt gradual rate hikes

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:31:18 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says it expects that the ongoing strength of the U.S. economy will warrant gradual increases in interest rates this year, delivering the same steady-as-it-goes message under new leader Jerome Powell as it had provided under Janet Yellen. The Fed's projection on rate hikes came with the release Friday of its semi-annual monetary report to Congress. Powell will testify on the report before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, making his first public appearance since taking over as chairman earlier this month. The report stated that the Fed expects steady economic gains will warrant "further gradual increases" in the Fed's benchmark rate.



Texas adds 3 rigs as US rig count increases to 978

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:46:22 UT

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by three this week to 978. That exceeds the 754 rigs that were active this time a year ago. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 799 rigs drilled for oil this week and 179 for gas. Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas increased by three rigs, New Mexico gained two and Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio and Wyoming each gained one. Oklahoma decreased by two rigs and Kansas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each lost one. Alaska, Arkansas, California and Utah were unchanged. The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May of 2016 at 404.



Business Highlights

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:39:54 UT

___ Fed expects economic gains to prompt gradual rate hikes WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve says it expects that the ongoing strength of the U.S. economy will warrant further gradual increases in interest rates this year. It delivered the same steady-as-it-goes message under new leader Jerome Powell as it provided under Janet Yellen. The Fed's projection on rate hikes came with the release Friday of its semi-annual monetary report to Congress. ___ US companies distance themselves from NRA as pressure mounts NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the National Rifle Association, after the latest school massacre.



General Mills gets pet-friendly again by buying Blue Buffalo

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:32:05 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The maker of Cheerios also wants to fill dog bowls: General Mills said Friday that it plans to buy high-end pet food maker Blue Buffalo for $8 billion. It's a return to the pet business for the more than 150-year-old company, which used to sell food for cats, dogs and birds back in the 1950s. And it joins other food makers in the pet business: Fruit-spread maker The J.M. Smucker Co., for example, owns Kibbles 'n Bits and Meow Mix. The deal is also a way for General Mills to further diversify its business as more people seek less-processed foods, even for their furry friends. "We've been serving all family members" for years, said General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening. "And pets are part of the family.



Blue Buffalo and HPE climb while RBS and LifePoint drop

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:10:19 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Friday: Blue Buffalo Pet Products Inc., up $5.88 to $40 The pet food maker agreed to be bought by breakfast food maker General Mills for $40 a share, or $8 billion. HP Inc., up 74 cents to $22.13 The printer and PC maker reported strong first-quarter results and gave a positive annual forecast. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., up $1.73 to $18.14 The data center hardware maker had a strong first quarter and raised its annual forecasts and its dividends. BJ's Restaurants Inc., up $4.95 to $43.65 The pizza and beer chain surpassed Wall Street estimates in the fourth quarter. Vista Outdoor Inc., down 27 cents to $18.



How major US stock indexes fared Friday

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:58:39 UT

A broad rally sent stocks sharply higher Friday, wiping out the market's losses from earlier in the week. Technology companies, banks and health care stocks accounted for much of the market's gains. The rally came as bond yields receded for the second day in a row after reaching four-year highs, which weighed on stocks, earlier in the week. On Friday: The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 43.34 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,747.30. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 347.51 points, or 1.4 percent, to 25,309.99. The Nasdaq composite gained 127.30 points, or 1.8 percent, to 7,337.39. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 19.20 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,549.19. For the week: The S&P 500 gained 15.



Broad rally helps stocks end a choppy week slightly higher

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:56:29 UT

Wall Street capped several days of choppy trading Friday with a broad rally that gave the stock market a modest gain for the week. Technology companies, banks and health care stocks accounted for much of the market's gains. Energy companies also rose along with crude oil prices. The rally came as bond yields pulled back for the second day in a row after reaching four-year highs earlier in the week. That spike on Wednesday, which sent the 10-year Treasury yield closing in on 3 percent, sent stocks sharply lower. "There was a lot of concern about what happened if bond yields got above 3 percent, and that probably added to some of the jitters earlier this week," said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird.



The Latest: Hertz ends rental car discount program with NRA

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:51:15 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the reaction by U.S. companies to the Florida school massacre (all times Eastern): ___ 4:45 p.m. Hertz has become the latest company to end a partnership with the NRA after the latest school shooting. The company announced in a Twitter message that it is ending its rental car discount program with the NRA. The National Rifle Association has resisted calls for stricter gun control in the wake of the mass shooting last week at a Florida high school that left 17 dead. ___ 2:05 p.m. The insurance company Chubb Ltd. is discontinuing its partnership with the NRA which offered a policy tailored specifically to gun owners. The policy provided coverage for people involved in a gun-related incident or accident.



Bank halts NRA credit card, car rental firm ends discount

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:20:08 UT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The nation's largest privately-owned bank holding company and a major car rental chain said Thursday they will stop promotions aimed at National Rifle Association members. The Nebraska-based First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract to issue the group's NRA Visa Card, spokesman Kevin Langin said in a statement. "Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA," Langin said. Langin declined to say when the contract would expire and would not elaborate on what sort of feedback the company had received. Separately, car rental company Enterprise said its three brands would end a discount program for NRA members.



Markets Right Now: Stocks end a choppy week slightly higher

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:09:20 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local): 4 p.m. Stocks are ending the week slightly higher after a two-day rally wiped out losses from earlier in the week. The gains Friday were led by technology and banks. Hewlett Packard Enterprise soared 10.5 percent and former corporate sibling HP rose 3.5 percent after both reported solid results. Blue Buffalo Pet Products jumped 17.2 percent after General Mills agreed to buy the pet food maker. Bond yields receded from the four-year highs they reached earlier this week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.87 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 43 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,747.



Chairman of China's Geely acquires 10 percent of Daimler

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:47:18 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Daimler says that Chinese businessman Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely, has acquired nearly 10 percent of the German automaker's shares. Geely, which owns Sweden's Volvo Cars, continues to expand its portfolio of vehicle brands that includes a 49.9 percent stake in Malaysia's Proton and a 51 percent stake in Britain's Lotus. Geely also owns Geely Auto, one of China's biggest independent automakers. Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz and one of the world's biggest automakers, reported record profits of $13.5 billion last year. Shares in Daimler ticked up slightly in European trading Friday, to about $86 per share, putting the value of the deal in the neighborhood of $9 billion.



Stores make push in scan and go tech, hope shoppers adopt it

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:36:09 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers at self-checkout lanes scanning all their groceries after they're done shopping? Old school. More stores are letting customer tally their choices with a phone app or store device as they roam the aisles. For customers, scanning as they go can be faster and make it simpler to keep track of spending. For stores, the big expansion of this technology coming this year costs less than installing more self-checkouts. Like many changes in retail, the expansion of scan-and-go comes from retailers trying to make store shopping more convenient and hang on to customers used to Amazon, which just opened a cashier-less store in Seattle.



Recalls this week: electric kettles, chairs, candles

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:57:15 UT

A line of KitchenAid electric kettles are being recalled because the handle can loosen, causing hot water to spill and potentially cause burns. Other recalled consumer products include recliner chairs and candles. Here's a more detailed look: ELECTRIC KETTLES DETAILS: KitchenAid 1.7 Liter Electric Kettles. The kettles were sold in stainless steel, red, black, white, liquid graphite and cocoa silver. Model numbers and serial numbers are located on the bottom of the kettle. KitchenAid is written on the front of the kettles. A complete list of model and serial numbers included in this recall is posted on the firm's website at http://repair.whirlpool.com.