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Business Highlights

Source : AP
Last Updated: Thu, Oct 25, 2012 22:33 hrs

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Microsoft CEO hails imminent release of Windows 8

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer celebrated the imminent release of the company's Windows operating system after two years of work.

Windows 8 is the most dramatic overhaul of the personal computer market's dominant operating system in 17 years.

Microsoft Corp. redesigned it so it will run on increasingly popular tablet computers, as well as PCs. Another version of Windows 8 is being released for smartphones next week.

PCs and tablets running on Windows 8 go on sale Friday. While appearing at an event in New York, Ballmer hailed Windows 8 PCs as the best machines ever made.

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Weak business spending drags on US growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — Companies are holding off on purchases of computers, industrial equipment and other long-lasting manufactured goods, a trend that's slowing the U.S. economy.

A fourth straight month of lackluster corporate spending led many economists on Thursday to trim their forecasts for growth in the July-September quarter. The government will issue its first estimate of third-quarter growth Friday, the last snapshot of overall economic activity before the presidential election.

The troubling report on business confidence overshadowed a drop in applications for unemployment aid and a slight increase in the number of people who signed contracts to buy homes.

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Apple misses Wall Street 4Q expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple missed Wall Street earnings expectations for the second straight quarter, as iPad sales fell short of analysts' forecasts.

The slowdown in the growth of iPad sales was not unexpected, as the rumor mill correctly predicted that Apple would launch a smaller, cheaper iPad. It announced that device, the iPad Mini, on Tuesday.

Net income in its fiscal fourth quarter was $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per share. That was up 24 percent from $6.6 billion, or $7.05 per share, a year ago.

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Group of major CEOs urges tax hikes, spending cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — CEOs from more than 80 major U.S. companies are pressing Congress to reduce the federal deficit by raising taxes and cutting spending. The deficit and how to tame it has become a key theme in the presidential campaign.

They warned in a statement issued Thursday that the uncertainty spawned by the deficit, which has topped $1 trillion for four consecutive years, is dampening hiring and investment and stifling the fragile economic recovery.

The CEOs said the solution requires a combination of higher taxes and reduced government spending including on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. They also seek federal investment in infrastructure and math and science education.

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Ex-Goldman exec's 2-year sentence draws scrutiny

NEW YORK (AP) — A two-year prison sentence for insider trading at the height of the 2008 economic crisis, by a man who was once one of the nation's most respected business executives, is a fifth of the 10 years requested by the government and well below sentencing guidelines. Now, some experts are questioning whether it's a fair punishment.

Judge Jed Rakoff described the sentence and $5 million fine given to former Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble Co. board member Rajat Gupta, 63, on Wednesday as sufficient to deter others and properly punish the Westport, Conn., resident.

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United Airlines troubles mostly wipe out 3Q profit

It was a rough third quarter for United Airlines.

Travelers stayed away, frustrated by technology glitches from United's merger with Continental. And a huge accounting charge wiped out most of its profit.

United's performance weakened by every measure important to airlines: Per-passenger revenue fell 2.6 percent, and was down in every part of the world except for the Pacific. Traffic fell 1.5 percent. Yield, which measures fares paid, slipped 1.2 percent.

Particularly damaging was the defection of corporate travelers, who booked elsewhere and hurt revenue.

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Procter & Gamble 1Q beats expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — Procter & Gamble's fiscal first quarter net income fell 7 percent on a stronger dollar and costs related to restructuring, but its results beat Wall Street expectations in a sign that a turnaround plan that it started in the spring is beginning to work.

The world's largest consumer products company, which has faced declining global market share, in May announced a plan to focus on its 40 top businesses, 20 biggest new products and 10 most profitable emerging markets as it undergoes a cost-cutting plan aimed at saving $10 billion by fiscal 2016.

The maker of well-known consumer goods such as Tide detergent and Pampers diapers said on Thursday that it's ahead of schedule with its planned job cuts, and that it might consider going beyond its $10 billion cost-cutting plan. P&G also said it has created a new position called global productivity officer that will report to the CEO and monitor possibilities for cost cuts.

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Sprint loses subscribers again in 3Q

NEW YORK (AP) — Subscriber trends are turning south again for Sprint Nextel as it struggles to compete with Verizon Wireless, the juggernaut of the industry.

The country's No. 3 wireless carrier on Thursday said it lost overall subscribers for the first time in two and a half years in the third quarter, as customers gave up on the moribund Nextel network and the company failed to sign up enough of them on the Sprint network.

It's the first time Sprint Nextel Corp. is reporting quarterly results since agreeing to sell 70 percent of itself to Japanese cellphone company Softbank Corp. for $20.1 billion. The deal hasn't closed yet, but Sprint has already borrowed money from Softbank.

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Amazon posts 3Q results below expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon's stock fell after the world's largest online retailer reported third-quarter results below Wall Street's expectations.

Amazon.com Inc. posted a loss of $274 million, or 60 cents per share, in the July-September period. That's down from earnings of $63 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier.

The latest results include a loss of 37 cents per share related to Amazon's stake in LivingSocial. Without the charge, it still would have lost 23 cents per share, worse than what analysts expected.

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Ford to shut more plants as Europe losses grow

LONDON (AP) — Ford pressed ahead Thursday with its plan to slash production in Europe, announcing another plant closure and 1,500 more job cuts, as it warned that annual losses in the region will exceed $1.5 billion this year and next.

Ford Motor Co. is struggling in Europe, like many major carmakers, because labor costs are relatively high and there are too many plants given that demand for cars is sliding due to the troubled European economy. Worries about its European business have dragged down Ford's stock price this year.

A day after announcing the closure of a major plant in Belgium, Ford said it also will close its Transit van plant in Southampton, England, and the stamping and tooling facility at its plant in Dagenham, England.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 26.34 points to close at 13,103.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 4.22 points to 1,412.97 and the Nasdaq gained 4.42 points to 2,986.12.

Benchmark oil gained 32 cents to finish at $86.05 a barrel in New York. Brent crude added 64 cents to end at $108.49 a barrel in London.

Natural gas fell 1.6 cents to finish at $3.434 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline rose 7.34 cents, nearly 3 percent, to end at $2.676 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2.3 cents to finish at $3.062 a gallon.

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