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Business Highlights, April 26

Business Highlights, April 26
Published: April 26, 2012

Business briefs


Factory goods orders decline

Orders for long-lasting factory goods fell by the largest amount in three years last month, mostly because demand for commercial aircraft plummeted. But companies also ordered less machinery and other equipment, a sign manufacturing output may slow. Orders for durable goods dropped 4.2 percent in March, the steepest fall since January 2009, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Commercial aircraft orders, a volatile category, fell by nearly 50 percent. Excluding transportation equipment, orders declined 1.1 percent. That's the second drop in that category in three months. And orders for so-called “core” capital goods, a good measure of business investment plans, declined 0.8 percent.

Airlines expect busy summer

Rising fares haven't kept passengers away, judging by financial results at Delta Air Lines and US Airways. Both airlines reported quarterly profits on Wednesday. And both said travel demand appears to be holding up, suggesting that planes will be full and fares will be higher for the busy summer travel season. Delta, the nation's second-biggest airline, said it will reduce flying by as much as 3 percent during the quarter that ends in June. The idea is that travelers will pay more for the remaining seats. So far, that appears to be working. Delta earned $124 million for the most recent quarter and US Airways earned $48 million. Both airlines lost money a year ago, and both benefited from special items for their quarterly profit this year. to buy rival site Inc. will acquire rival family history website for about $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities, the companies announced Wednesday. The two companies said they're combining their strengths and key employees but will maintain separate websites. offers access to about 2 billion historical records, from birth records to obituaries. It has 380,000 paying customers. Ancestry has 1.8 million customers. It's the world's largest online family history resource, with 9 billion records.

Blowout leads to evacuation

An oil well blowout in Wyoming prompted 50 residents to evacuate their homes amid concern that a spewing cloud of natural gas could explode. Gas continued to erupt from the ground Wednesday after the blowout Tuesday afternoon five miles northeast of Douglas in east-central Wyoming. Authorities were concerned about the possibility of an explosion or fire before the well could be plugged with drilling mud. No workers were injured. The gas leak was diminishing Wednesday and officials were optimistic that workers with the Houston-based well control company Boots & Coots would plug it soon. Air samples were normal but the company asked 67 residents who live within 2.5 miles to voluntarily evacuate. Fifty of those residents left and 17 opted to remain at their homes, according to officials with the well operator, Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy.

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