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Business Highlights

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm •  Published: January 27, 2015
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Record iPhone sales drive blowout quarter for Apple

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple had another blowout quarter thanks to its new plus-sized iPhones, which helped the company smash sales records for the holiday season.

Apple said Tuesday that it sold 74.5 million iPhones during the three months that ended Dec. 31, beating analysts' expectations for the latest models of Apple's most popular gadget, introduced in September.

The surge in iPhone sales drove the company's total revenue to $74.6 billion, up 30 percent from a year earlier. CEO Tim Cook said on a call with analysts that demand for the phones was "staggering," and noted that results would have been even higher if not for the impact of the strong dollar on overseas sales.

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Yahoo to spin off Alibaba stake into separate company

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is spinning off the company's prized stake in China's Alibaba Group Holding in a move that will enable Yahoo to avoid paying billions of dollars in future taxes.

A newly formed entity called SpinCo will inherit ownership of Yahoo's 384 million Alibaba shares when the tax-free spin-off is completed toward the end of this year.

Yahoo's own stock gained $3.51, or more than 7 percent, to $51.50 in extended trading after Mayer disclosed her plans for Yahoo's 15 percent stake in Alibaba.

Tuesday's much-anticipated announcement overshadowed Yahoo's results for the final three months of last year.

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What! Facebook's down? No storm selfies during brief outage

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — No storm selfies, hookups, status updates. With Facebook and Instagram down for nearly an hour overnight, what were legions of users to do?

Turn to Twitter, of course. To talk about Facebook. The hashtag "#facebookdown" generated a cascade of tweets, including an image of a T-shirt with the words "I survived #facebookdown." Companies such as Coca-Cola took it as a viral marketing opportunity.

Of course companies that depend on Facebook and Instagram to reach their customers, like the dating app Tinder, had to wait. More than 7,500 websites had services affected by the Facebook outage, according to Web tracking firm DynaTrace.

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A US green-energy blueprint, meant to help Liberia, fails

BUCHANAN, Liberia (AP) — On paper, the pitch was simple: A green energy company backed by $217 million in U.S. government loans would convert one of Africa's poorest countries into the world's first biomass-driven economy. But the plan to help Liberia collapsed amid questionable business decisions and oversight.

The company, Buchanan Renewables, dismissed 600 workers and left the country amid complaints of workplace injuries, environmental harm and, at times, sexual abuse.

Backing the company at every stage was the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency with a global mandate but low profile. The agency approves more than $3 billion a year in financing, targeting developments in hard-pressed communities. But its internal watchdog has issued reports on just five deals since 2005, a period when OPIC approved more than 530 projects.

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What the credit downgrade to 'junk' means for Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has seen its credit grade cut to "junk" status for the first time in over a decade, a big blow for a country that wants to be a world economic power.

The downgrade by Standard & Poor's reflects the country's growing economic problems, such as the collapse in the value of its oil exports and the impact of Western sanctions. But it is also rare for a country with such low debt levels.

The Russian government announced Tuesday an anti-crisis plan that aims to fix the budget and achieve a surplus by 2017.

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US new home sales jump 11.6 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of new U.S. homes accelerated strongly in December, a sign that home-buying may improve this year after a lackluster 2014.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new home sales climbed 11.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000. The gains were not enough to offset essentially flat home-buying over the course of 2014. Just 435,000 new homes were bought last year, a modest 1.2 percent improvement from 2013.

The growth in December pointed to rising sales in 2015, buoyed by the combination of strong hiring in recent months and drastically lower mortgage rates. Home values are also rising at a slower pace, improving affordability for would-be buyers.

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