• Gauge of US economy rises 0.9 percent in July

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health posted the sharpest advance in four months in July, indicating the economy is gaining traction headed into the last half of the year. The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.9 percent last month, the sixth straight increase and the best showing since a 1 percent rise in March. The index, composed of 10 forward-pointing indicators, had risen 0.6 percent in June. Financial market conditions, a big rise in applications for building permits and falling applications for unemployment benefits were the biggest sources of strength in July. The index was held back by a drop in average weekly hours in manufacturing a

  • United lures top fliers with promise of a hot meal

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — To win the hearts of frequent business travelers, United Airlines is going through their stomachs. The carrier has been looking for ways to woo back some of its top fliers who defected to other carriers following a rocky merger with Continental Airlines. So, it's upgrading first class food options and replacing snacks with full meals on some of its shortest flights. The changes, announced Thursday, mean that instead of potato chips, chocolate chip cookies and bananas, passengers on flights of at least 800 miles will get meals such as chicken and mozzarella on a tomato focaccia roll and turkey and Swiss cheese on a cranberry baguette. Currently, meals are only served on flights of 900 miles or more — trips

  • Average US 30-year mortgage rate at 4.10 pct

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week, with the 30-year loan rate hitting its 52-week low. Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.10 percent from 4.12 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, slipped to 3.23 percent from 3.24 percent. Mortgage rates have fallen in recent weeks after climbing last summer when the Federal Reserve began talking about reducing the monthly bond purchases it was making to keep long-term borrowing rates low. Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year note traded at 2.43 percent Wednesday, close to

  • Correction: XGR--Coal Ash story

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In a story Aug. 20 about new North Carolina legislation addressing Duke Energy coal ash deposits, The Associated Press reported erroneously the length of time the company has to remove the ash at four sites considered to be at the highest risk. Duke Energy must act within five years, not 15 years. A corrected version of the story is below: NC legislators approve regulating toxic coal ash NC lawmakers pass regulations for toxic coal ash after massive spill soiled 70 miles of river By EMERY P. DALESIO and MITCH WEISS Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers Wednesday praised new legislation they say will regulate coal-ash pits and clean up decades of toxic w

  • Family Dollar rejects Dollar General offer

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    Family Dollar has rejected a takeover bid from dollar-store competitor Dollar General, saying it would be too hard for the deal to pass antitrust regulators. Family Dollar's board said it supports its existing deal to be acquired by Dollar Tree. Family Dollar Stores Inc. Chairman and CEO Howard Levine said in a statement Thursday that its board and advisers reviewed Dollar General Corp.'s offer and determined it wasn't reasonably likely to be completed on the terms proposed. Dollar General Chairman and CEO Rick Dreiling said in a statement that the company was disappointed in Family Dollar's decision, and that it had done an extensive antitrust analysis that confirmed its proposal could be completed.

  • Music site SoundCloud to start paying artists

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    BERLIN (AP) — SoundCloud said Thursday that it will start paying artists and record companies whose music is played on the popular streaming site, a move that will bring it in line with competitors such as YouTube and Spotify. Berlin-based SoundCloud boasts some 175 million unique listeners a month, but so far those who upload tracks to the site haven't received money. To fund the payments SoundCloud is introducing ads, the revenue from which will be shared with musicians and rights holders. "This is something we've been wanting to get to ever since we started the company," SoundCloud founder Alexander Ljung told The Associated Press.

  • New restrictions on hydrocodone to take effect

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government is finalizing new restrictions on hundreds of medicines containing hydrocodone, the highly addictive painkiller that has grown into the most widely prescribed drug in the U.S. The new rules mean that drugs like Vicodin, Lortab and their generic equivalents will be subject to the same prescribing rules as painkillers like codeine and oxycodone. Patients will be limited to one 90-day supply of medication and will have to see a health care professional to get a refill. In many states, only doctors will be able to prescribe the medications, not nurses or physician assistants.

  • Feds: Colorado woman defrauded investors of $800k

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is suing a former Colorado Springs woman for allegedly defrauding more than 40 investors in several states of nearly $800,000 through smartphone ventures. The lawsuit alleges that Heidi Ann Gamer used investors' money for vacations, shopping, rental housing and other personal expenses, The Gazette reported Thursday (http://tinyurl.com/mgrvj6h ). The suit also names as defendants two companies Gamer started: Gamer Economic Systems LLC of Colorado Springs and Gamer Media Partners Corp. of Atlanta.

  • Deals only a click away for back-to-school season

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — It's mid-August, and parents are scrambling to outfit their kids with backpacks, gadgets and jeans as the clock winds down toward the first day of school. But don't fret. This season, stores are offering new services and apps to cater to time-starved, smartphone-savvy parents to help them save time and money during the annual shopping ritual. The gimmicks include new twists on price matching, more choices for same-day delivery and expanded selections online. "It's a lot easier to find a deal," said Michael Londrigan, dean of academic affairs at LIM College, a fashion college in New York. "It's saving customers a ton of time. It's allowing them to uncover hidden treasures that they wouldn't be able to d

  • Retail gasoline prices drop a penny across Texas

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    IRVING, Texas (AP) — Retail gasoline prices across Texas have slipped by a penny this week. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump fell to $3.28. The average price fell by 3 cents last week and now is down by 14 cents compared to the same time last year. Nationwide gasoline prices stand at $3.44, down from $3.47 last week. El Paso has the most expensive gasoline in Texas this week at $3.36 per gallon. The association survey found Amarillo with the cheapest at $3.17 per gallon. AAA says gas prices are trending downward because of stable global supplies that are not being affected by tensions in Iraq, Ukraine and elsewhere.

  • Bank of America agrees to nearly $17B settlement

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has reached a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Thursday. The deal calls for the bank, the second-largest in the U.S., to pay a $5 billion cash penalty, another $4.6 billion in remediation payments and provide about $7 billion in relief to struggling homeowners. The settlement is by far the largest deal the Justice Department has reached with a bank over the 2008 mortgage meltdown. In the last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to a $13 billion settlement while Citigroup reached a separate $7 billion deal.

  • Ecologists team up to buy Texas bayside ranch

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and partners have announced the purchase of a sprawling southeast Texas ranch with funds put aside after the BP oil spill. The Powderhorn Ranch, 75 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, will be converted into a state park. The $37.7 million purchase represents the biggest spend on Texas land for conservation. The agency says an additional $13 million will be spent on habitat restoration and an endowment. The cost is largely covered by a BP and Transocean fund created in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The property contains thousands of acres of freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, tidal flats, oyster beds and live Oak.

  • Texas company cancels Ala wind farm project

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A Texas company is giving up plans to generate electricity with wind turbines it wanted to build along a ridge in northeastern Alabama. The Gadsden Times (http://bit.ly/VHQ6EE ) reported that Pioneer Green Energy is abandoning the $2 million project because rules imposed by the Alabama Legislature were too restrictive. Charles Stewart, an attorney for Pioneer Green, said the wind farm had been planned for Shinbone Ridge in Etowah and Cherokee counties. "They couldn't make the project work," Stewart said. Stewart said the company ended the plan because of legislation establishing parameters for any wind turbine project in the state. That included setback lines and permitting through the Alaba

  • Stocks move higher; S&P 500 heading for a record

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are moving mostly higher, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 index closer toward another record close. Traders were encouraged by the latest encouraging sign in the U.S. job market, a decline last week in the number of people applying for unemployment benefits. The S&P 500 rose four points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,990 as of noon Eastern time Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 67 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,045. The Nasdaq composite was flat at 4,526. Hewlett-Packard rose 5 percent after the company reported its first sales increase in nearly three years. Sears fell 7 percent after the company reported that its loss doubled in the latest quarter. Bond prices ro

  • Honda bolsters Fit to boost crash resistance

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    DETROIT (AP) — When the subcompact Fit failed a crash test, Honda went back to the drawing board. The tiny Fit, redesigned for the 2015 model year, initially flunked the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap test, earning just a "Marginal" rating. The test simulates a 40 mph crash between the front corner of a car and an object such as a utility pole. Honda engineers strengthened the welds on the front bumper beams, so energy from a crash would be spread over the entire front of the car. This gave the driver and passengers more protection and lessened the likelihood of injury. The change got the Fit an "Acceptable" rating in a second test, and earned it a "Top Safety Pick" designation.

  • The Children's Place tops Street 2Q forecasts

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Shares of The Children's Place rose nearly 5 percent Thursday after the retailer reported a narrower loss in its second quarter and increased the lower end of its earnings outlook for the year. The company also said it signed a deal to bring its stores to India. The franchise agreement will bring 50 stores to India starting next year, part of the company's plan to increase growth by opening more stores around the world. It signed a similar deal in May, which will help it open 40 franchised children's clothing stores in Latin America and the Caribbean over the next few years. The announcements sent the company's shares up nearly 5 percent Thursday. For the quarter ending Aug. 2, the company report

  • Netherlands king to attend ethanol plant opening

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    EMMETSBURG, Iowa (AP) — The king of the Netherlands plans to visit Iowa next month to attend the grand opening of a northern Iowa ethanol plant co-owned by a Netherlands-based company. Willem-Alexander says he will take part in the Sept. 3 grand opening ceremony at the Project Liberty cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg and tour the facility. The $250 million project is a joint venture of Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based ethanol-maker POET and Royal DSM, a biotechnology company based in the Netherlands. The plant will produce 25 million gallons a year when fully operational. It is among the first facilities of its size in the United States to begin making ethanol from plant material.

  • Record drought saps California honey production

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    LOS BANOS, Calif. (AP) — California's record drought hasn't been sweet to honeybees, and it's creating a sticky situation for beekeepers and honey buyers. The state is traditionally one of the country's largest honey producers, with abundant crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar that bees turn into honey. But the lack of rain has ravaged native plants and forced farmers to scale back crop production, leaving fewer places for honeybees to forage. The historic drought, now in its third year, is reducing supplies of California honey, raising prices for consumers and making it harder for beekeepers to earn a living.

  • US existing home sales rise for 4th straight month as supply grows, price gains moderate

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — US existing home sales rise for 4th straight month as supply grows, price gains moderate.

  • Applications for US unemployment aid fall to 298K

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, another sign the job market is improving. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly claims for jobless aid fell 14,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 298,000. The prior week's figures were revised up slightly to 311,000. The less-volatile four-week average rose 4,750 to 300,750. It remains close to levels that predate the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. "Readings at or below the (300,000) mark are extremely rare in an historical context," Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients.