• Top business stories of 2014: US grows, world slows

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — This year showed how sheltered the U.S. economy is from geopolitical and health crises around the world. The global economy sputtered, but the U.S. powered ahead. Employers are finally hiring enough to lower unemployment. A plunge in gas prices and a rising stock market has Americans feeling richer and spending a bit more. Those are some of the top business stories of 2014, as chosen by business editors at The Associated Press. Others include massive product disasters: A string of auto recalls after faulty ignition switches from General Motors Corp. and air bags in many car models caused injuries and deaths. Hackers stole personal information from millions of people in a wave of breaches at stores, banks, a movie

  • Railroads seek one-person crews for freight trains

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — When American freight trains delivered cargo after World War II, they commonly had seven people aboard — an engineer, a conductor, up to four brakemen and a fireman. Since then, trains have grown much longer. And crews have been reduced in size — to five people in the 1970s and two in 1991. Now U.S. railroads want to put a single person in charge of today's huge locomotives. For now, freight trains generally have two people aboard — an engineer who drives the train and a conductor who oversees the long line of cars. Railroad executives want to reduce that to a lone engineer, saying advances in safety systems could keep the risks to a minimum. Labor groups, some federal agencies and people who

  • Russia bails out bank following ruble slide

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has bailed out a mid-sized bank for about $500 million to save it from bankruptcy— a clear sign that the slide in the value of the ruble in the wake of falling oil prices is straining the banking system. The Central Bank said Monday that it will provide a 30-billion ruble loan to help the Trust Bank to continue operating as normal. It will also place Trust Bank under its own supervision until it finds an investor. Major Russian banks said they had no interest in acquiring Trust, a top 30 Russian bank with about $5 billion in assets. The problems afflicting Trust Bank follow a tumultuous period for the ruble, which this year has shared the title of the world's worst performing currency with the U

  • Dem group spent $446k on West Virginia statehouse elections

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A Democratic group chipped in almost $446,000 to sway West Virginia's statehouse elections this cycle, adding to the flurry of party organizations, coal interests, executives, casinos and unions that influenced legislative races. Republicans sealed their first majorities in the state House of Delegates and Senate in more than eight decades. In January, the House will turn 64-36 in favor of Republicans. The Senate will flip to an 18-16 GOP majority after Democratic Sen. Daniel Hall announced a party change to Republican. Here is a look at some of the most active outside groups in the state contests, where mailings, radio ads and some TV spots were common.

  • Trump Entertainment eyes new financing from Icahn

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Trump Entertainment Resorts says a new $20 million pledge by billionaire investor Carl Icahn will give it time to restructure while keeping the struggling Taj Mahal casino open. Trump attorneys said Monday that Icahn's proposal, $15 million more than his previous bankruptcy financing offer, runs through Dec. 31, 2015. It also comes without some of the conditions upon which Icahn had insisted as part of a plan that would transfer ownership of the Atlantic City, New Jersey casino to him. The revised plan omits a demand for $175 million in state and local tax relief, but it also eliminates a pledge by Icahn, who holds $288 million in secured Trump Entertainment debt, to pump $100 million into the

  • US home sales hit slowest pace in 6 months in Nov.

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans bought homes in November as buying slid to its slowest pace in six months. The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes fell 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million. That was down from a revised annual pace of 5.26 million in October. Over the past 12 months, sales have risen 2.1 percent. The combination of higher home prices and relatively stagnant incomes has reduced affordability and restrained buying. A recent decline in mortgage rates has yet to lure more buyers into the market. At the same time, fewer distressed properties and bargains, which tend to attract investors, are coming onto the market. The Realtors estimate tha

  • Investors expect higher stocks in 2015, but also turbulence

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Can the U.S. hold everyone else above water? That is the question investors are asking as Wall Street heads into 2015. A strong U.S. economy helped propel the stock market higher in 2014, continuing a bull market that is on pace to celebrate its sixth birthday in March. On more than one occasion, investors dumped stocks following geopolitical flare-ups and concerns about the global economy, only to jump back in when an economic report or results from a big company suggested the U.S. economy was still resilient. This bull market may be slowing down, but it still has had a remarkable run. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has more than tripled from its March 2009 low. Wall Street strategists, who typically

  • Stocks mostly higher at midday, extending advance

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    Major stock indexes edged mostly higher Monday but the gains were held back by discouraging data on U.S. home sales and a deepening slide in oil prices. The market is coming off a big advance last week, which gave the Standard & Poor's 500 its second-biggest weekly gain this year. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,873 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern. The S&P 500 was flat at 2,070. The Nasdaq composite rose a point to 4,766. The price of oil fell $1.74 to $55.39 a barrel. Homebuilders fell following a report that sales of previously occupied homes fell last month to the slowest pace in six months. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.18 percent.

  • Gas prices fall in Maine, nationwide

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The average retail gasoline price in Maine fell 11 cents in the past week. Website GasBuddy.com reports the average price was $2.58 per gallon according to a daily survey of 1,228 Maine outlets. The website says the national average fell 10.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.42 per gallon. The website says prices on Sunday were 90.3 cents per gallon lower than the same day a year ago and 36.1 cents per gallon lower than one month ago. The national average decreased 80.4 cents per gallon over the last year and 41.1 cents per gallon over the last month.

  • Massachusetts gas prices down another 11 cents

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    BOSTON (AP) — The holidays are a little happier for Massachusetts residents who are seeing another steep drop in gas prices. AAA Southern New England reports Monday that the price of a gallon of self-serve, regular dropped another 11 cents in the past week to an average of $2.57. That's 30 cents lower per gallon than a month ago and 87 cents lower than at the same time last year. Yet despite the sharp drop, the price in Massachusetts is 18 cents higher than the national average. AAA found self-serve, regular selling in Massachusetts for as low as $2.39 per gallon to as high as $2.79.

  • Correction: Marijuana Research story

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    DENVER (AP) — In a story Dec. 17 about marijuana research, The Associated Press reported erroneously reported Marcel Bonn-Miller's profession. He is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. Also, while he works with the Veterans Administration, his lab is not part of the VA. A corrected version of the story is below: Colorado funds medical marijuana research, a first New frontier: Colorado dedicates $8M for medical marijuana research to understand benefits By KRISTEN WYATT Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Colorado will spend more than $8 million researching marijuana's medical potential — a new frontier because government-funded marijuana research traditionally focuses on the drug's negative health effe

  • US home sales fell 6.1 percent in November; low mortgage rates fail to draw buyers

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — US home sales fell 6.1 percent in November; low mortgage rates fail to draw buyers.

  • Stocks open mostly higher, extending a rally

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    U.S. stock indexes are opening mostly higher as the market builds on its big gains from last week. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 69 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,874 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose less than a point to 2,071. It rose 3.4 percent for last week, its second-best gain this year. The Nasdaq composite edged down three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,762. European and Asian markets also rose on hopes that some stability was emerging in oil markets following a rout that's seen prices slide to five-year lows. Bond prices were flat. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.17 percent.

  • Tourism suffers in winter of EU-Russia discontent

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    PARIS (AP) — Russia's tensions with the West over Ukraine and the slump for the ruble are echoing through the French Alps — and unfortunately for some businesses, just in time for ski season. Hoteliers, taxi drivers and ski stations in France's wintertime hotspots and beyond say a tourism boom by big-spending Russians in recent years is about to melt away because of Russia's economic crisis, Western sanctions and a drop in oil prices that is keeping both uber-rich and middle class Russians away as the year ends. As Moscow and the West began a faceoff over violence in Ukraine this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that U.S and European sanctions would cut both ways.

  • PSC approves solar power project

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Public Service Commission has approved solar power project planned by Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric in Mercer County. A statement from the PSC says it authorized the utilities on Friday to build a 10-megawatt solar array at the E.W. Brown Generating Station, which would produce enough power to supply about 8,000 homes. It will consist of about 260 solar panels. The statement says it is the first utility-scale solar power project in the state. According to the PSC, the $36 million price of the solar array will be partially offset by tax credit and other factors, so it will have a "relatively minor" impact on rates.

  • SKorea holds N-plant drills against cyber threats

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company said it began drills Monday against possible cyberattacks after online threats of attack against its plants. State-owned Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. said the two-day drills are meant to prepare workers in the event of hacking attacks aimed at disabling the plants' controlling systems. The company and the energy ministry said that even though the controlling system is safe from hacking, they are holding the exercises to assure public safety. Last week, documents including layouts of nuclear facilities and personal information of nuclear workers were published online.

  • Ohio gas prices drop again ahead of holidays

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio drivers traveling for the holidays are finding it's much cheaper to fill their tanks this year than it was a year ago. The state's average price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.19 in Monday's survey from auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That's 22 cents less than a week ago and $1.08 under the average at this time last year. It's also well under the national average, which was about $2.39 on Monday. That's down 16 cents from a week ago and is 85 cents cheaper than a year ago. Oil prices have fallen significantly since summer. The relatively low gas prices are one factor contributing to forecasts of increased travel around the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

  • AAA Michigan: Gas prices fall 24 cents in week

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says statewide gas prices have dropped about 24 cents a gallon in the last week. The auto club says the average price per gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was $2.23 on Sunday. That's about $1 less than a year ago. This is the sixth week in a row that the statewide average price has fallen. Statewide prices remain at their lowest level in more than 5 years. Dearborn-based AAA Michigan surveys fuel costs at 2,800 Michigan gas stations daily. It says the cheapest price was about $2.07 in the Flint area. The highest price was about $2.46 a gallon in the Marquette area. The auto club says the Detroit-area average has fallen for the 16th week in a row, to about $2.25 a

  • China opposes cyberattacks, doesn't name N. Korea

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    BEIJING (AP) — China says it has told the U.S. that it is against cyberattacks and opposes any nation or individual launching such attacks from a third country, but did not directly condemn the Sony hackings that Washington has blamed on North Korea. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the comments to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation Sunday night, but did not blame North Korea for the hackings against Sony Pictures, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned Monday against suggesting that China was used as a platform for the attacks without sufficient evidence. Sony Pictures canceled the release of "The Interview" after rece

  • As Air Force fixes nuke flaws, future debated

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with one of its biggest challenges in years — repairing a troubled nuclear missile corps — the Air Force has taken an important first step by admitting, after years of denial, that its problems run deep and wide. Less certain is whether it will find all the right fixes, apply them fully and convince a doubting force of launch officers, security guards and other nuclear workers that their small and narrow career field is not a dead end. The stakes are huge. The nation's strategy for deterring nuclear war rests in part on the 450 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand ready, 24/7, to launch at a moment's notice from underground silos in five states.