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Business Highlights

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm •  Published: October 8, 2015


VW executive apologizes but says scandal not his fault

Volkswagen's top U.S. executive offered deep apologies yet sought to distance himself Thursday from the emissions scandal enveloping the world's largest automaker, asserting top corporate officials had no knowledge of the cheating software installed in 11 million diesel cars.

Though he said he hadn't been briefed on the preliminary findings of the ongoing internal investigation, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn told a congressional subcommittee that a tiny group of software developers in Germany was responsible for the computer code that enabled the cars to trick U.S. government emissions tests. Three lower-level managers have been suspended.


Some travelers love to hate the new discount airlines

There are few businesses that consumers love to hate more than airlines, but travelers seem to reserve a special level of vitriol for these no-frills, discount airlines.

Passengers are about 20 times more likely to complain about one of them than about Alaska Airlines or Southwest Airlines, which have the industry's lowest complaint rates. Either Frontier or Spirit has recorded the highest rate of complaints to the government every month this year. Allegiant would place third-worst, although because of its small size it is not included in the official rankings.


Vote set on proposed UAW-Fiat Chrysler deal

DETROIT (AP) — Local union leaders will be voting Friday on a proposed deal between the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler. The deal averts a possible strike at the company's U.S. plants.

The UAW says its bargaining committee was able to achieve "significant gains."

The union announced the agreement just after 11:59 p.m., which was the deadline the union had set to reach a new deal or possibly go on strike. The company confirms the agreement, but says it can't discuss the specifics just yet.


'Harry Potter' e-books come to life in new Apple edition

NEW YORK (AP) — You don't need to be a wizard to see the "Harry Potter" books come to life.

The seven books are getting a makeover with more than 200 new illustrations in enhanced e-books made for Apple devices. More than half of the illustrations are animated or interactive, with such touches as a golden snitch from Quidditch matches flying away as you tap it on the screen. Series creator J.K. Rowling also goes deeper into some of the characters and story lines with a handful of pop-up annotations.


Netflix raising US price for most popular video plan by $1

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix is raising the price of its Internet video service by $1 for new customers in the U.S., Canada and some Latin America countries to help cover its escalating costs for shows such as "House of Cards" and other original programming.

The new price of $10 per month for Netflix's standard plan — its most popular — marks the second time in 17 months that Los Gatos, California, company has boosted its U.S. rates by $1. The trend reflects the financial pressure that Netflix is facing as it competes against, HBO and other services for the rights to TV series and movies that will expand its audience.


Global worries kept Fed from hiking rates in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve officials were almost ready to raise interest rates in September but held off because of China's economic slowdown and its potential to derail U.S. growth and inflation.

Minutes of the Sept. 16-17 discussions released Thursday showed the central bank believed the time for the first Fed rate increase in nine years "might be near."

However, policymakers decided to wait for evidence that the economy had not weakened and that inflation would gradually move back toward the Fed's 2 percent annual target. Some members also expressed concerns that a premature rate hike could harm the central bank's credibility.


Clinton plan seeks to crack down on Wall Street abuses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to crack down on bad behavior by Wall Street by punishing individual investors, financial managers and traders for misconduct, saying they will be "prosecuted and imprisoned."

Bankers who violate the law would face the possibility of tougher criminal penalties, according to a summary of Clinton's plan released Wednesday night by her campaign. They also would be banned from future employment in the financial industry and could find their compensation penalized as part of a government settlement.


Drop in applications for US unemployment benefits last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, as employers hold onto workers despite a recent slowdown in hiring because of global pressures weighing on the U.S. economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for jobless aid fell 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, has fallen 8.2 percent over the past year to 267,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Recent lows had pointed to greater confidence among employers. The drop in weekly applications has reduced the total number of people receiving benefits. There are 2.2 million Americans collecting jobless aid, close to the lowest total since November 2000.


Average US rate on 30-year mortgages falls to 3.76 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell sharply this week amid concern over a labor market that has shown recent signs of weakness.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 3.76 percent from 3.85 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 2.99 percent from 3.07 percent.

Rates have stayed below 4 percent for 11 straight weeks. This week's decline brought rates to levels far below last year's levels, providing an inducement for potential homebuyers. A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage rate was 4.19 percent, while the rate for 15-year loans was 3.36 percent.


Bill Gross sues former employer, Pimco, for $200 million

NEW YORK (AP) — Billionaire bond investor Bill Gross has sued his former employer, Pimco, for more than $200 million for breach of contract and plotting to oust him from the firm he founded more than four decades ago.

The suit, filed Thursday in Orange County, California, alleges that Pimco executives plotted to remove Gross in an internal power struggle that eventually led to him leaving the company in September 2014.

Pimco, which is based in based in Newport Beach, California, said the lawsuit has no merit and the firm will respond in court.


Holiday sales seen rising 3.7 percent

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are expected to spend at a slower pace than last year during the crucial winter holidays, weighed down by sluggish wage growth and other factors, according to the nation's largest retail industry trade group.

The National Retail Federation, based in Washington, D.C., predicts holiday spending will be up 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion, slower than the 4.1 percent increase during last year's November-December period.

It would mark the first slowdown since 2012, when retailers were hurt by Super Storm Sandy, which disrupted households and businesses for months, as well as other distractions like a stalemate in Congress.


Amazon challenges Etsy with Handmade at Amazon

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is launching its site for handcrafted goods called Handmade at Amazon on Thursday, hoping to capitalize on shoppers' appetite for homemade goods ahead of the holiday season.

The move throws down the gauntlet to craft-selling site Etsy. But at least at the time of launch, the two sites will have a very different seller base, fee structure and stances on manufacturing.

Amazon started offering invitations in May to join Handmade, giving sellers access to Amazon's 285 million shoppers. The Seattle-based retailer says the site, which will carry everything from $30 walnut cufflinks from Australia to $325 handmade quilts from Wisconsin, sprang from customer feedback and site searches for crafty items.


Beyond 'Like:' 5 ways you might soon emote on Facebook

NEW YORK (AP) — Sometimes "Like" just doesn't cut it. So how about Love or Angry? Haha or Sad? Or just Yay or Wow?

Facebook is going "Inside Out" on the Like button, adding a range of new emotional reactions to the iconic thumbs-up icon it launched in 2009.

You won't see the new emoji right away unless you live in Ireland or Spain, the two locations the Menlo Park, California-based social network chose to begin testing them on Friday.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 138.46 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 17,050.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 17.60 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,013.43. The Nasdaq composite rose 19.64 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,810.79.

Benchmark U.S. oil rose $1.62, or 3.4 percent, at $49.43 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, which is used to price international oils, gained $1.72, or 3.4 percent, to $53.05 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1.8 cents to close at $1.408 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2.2 cents to close at $1.602 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2.4 cents to close at $2.498 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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