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Business briefs for May 17, 2014

Business briefs for May 17, 2014
By The Associated Press Published: May 17, 2014

Business briefs

AAA predicts heavy travel

— A strong case of cabin fever and a little more money to spend should inspire a greater number of Americans to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend. Auto club AAA said Friday that it expects a total of 36.1 million people to travel 50 miles or more. If that estimate holds true, it would be the largest amount of people traveling during the holiday weekend since 2005. Most will drive to their vacation spots, but more people are expected to fly or take a cruise or train this year compared with a year ago, AAA said.

Rig count rises in U.S.

— Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by six this week to 1,861. The Houston firm said in its weekly report Friday that 1,531 rigs were exploring for oil and 326 for gas. Four were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,769 active rigs. Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, California gained eight rigs, Ohio increased by four, Oklahoma by three, Pennsylvania by two and Kansas one. Texas declined by four rigs, Alaska, New Mexico and West Virginia were down two each, and Louisiana lost one. Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming were all unchanged.

Jury sides with Anheuser-Busch

— Anheuser-Busch did not discriminate against a former executive by paying her significantly less than a male predecessor, a jury in St. Louis decided Friday. The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days before siding with the company, a onetime family business now owned by Belgium-based brewer InBev. Counting bonuses and stock options, Francine Katz earned about $1 million annually after her 2002 promotion to vice president of communications and consumer affairs and appointment to the company’s influential strategy committee. But Katz’s base salary was half that of John Jacob, a former National Urban League president and Anheuser-Busch board member. The company argued that Katz’s salary, benefits and bonuses compared favorably to those in similar positions at other large U.S. corporations. Jacob had an informal role as trusted adviser to former CEO August Busch III, whose family of German immigrants founded the iconic maker of Budweiser and Bud Light in the 19th century.

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