• Minnesota Pipe Line seeks to expand capacity

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Pipe Line Co. announced plans Thursday to nearly double the capacity of a crude oil pipeline that carries oil from Canada and North Dakota to the two refineries in the Twin Cities that produce most of Minnesota's and much of Wisconsin's transportation fuels. The company said it will ask the Public Utilities Commission to approve six new pumping stations and upgrades at two existing stations so that the newest of its four pipelines can carry 350,000 barrels per day from Clearbrook in northwestern Minnesota to the Flint Hills Refinery in Rosemount and the Northern Tier Refinery in St. Paul Park. The project will not require the construction of new pipelines or the acquisition of new right of way, it sai

  • Union Pacific railroad's 1Q profit up 14 percent

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The harsh winter didn't keep Union Pacific railroad from delivering 14 percent higher quarterly profit as it hauled more agricultural, industrial and coal shipments. The Omaha, Neb., based railroad said Thursday that it generated $1.09 billion in net income, or $2.38 per share, in the first quarter. That's up from $957 million, or $2.03 per share, a year ago. Union Pacific's revenue grew 7 percent to $5.64 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Union Pacific to report earnings per share of $2.37 on $5.7 billion in revenue. Union Pacific officials are optimistic about the year ahead.

  • GE 1Q earnings fall, outlook strong

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — General Electric's new focus on oil and gas equipment helped the company to post strong first-quarter results. GE posted lower overall first-quarter net income than a year ago, but that's only due to the sale of NBC Universal during that period. The company said Thursday that its industrial divisions, especially oil and gas, performed well and that the global economic environment was improving. "U.S. gets a little bit better every day. Europe is improving. The growth markets continue to expand and will provide growth during the year even with volatility," said CEO Jeff Immelt on a call with investors. GE earned $3 billion on revenue of $34.18 billion in the year's first three months, down from $3.5 bil

  • US sanctions government official in Zimbabwe

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department is sanctioning a government official and others in Zimbabwe for allegedly undermining democracy in the southern African nation. The department announced Thursday that it has sanctioned Tobaiwa (toh-BY'-wah) Mudede (MOO'-deh-deh), a well-known and prominent supporter of President Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH'-bay). As registrar-general, Mudede controls the roll of voters that is widely alleged to be used by Mugabe's ruling party to rig elections. The department says Mudede oversaw critical elements of Zimbabwe's flawed July 2013 presidential and parliamentary elections.

  • Tech stocks slump after Google, IBM disappoint

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    Stocks are drifting lower on Wall Street in midday trading, led by a decline in the technology sector after Google and IBM reported disappointing earnings. UnitedHealth Group also fell in early trading Thursday after its results also fell short of what investors were expecting. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged down less than a point to 1,862 as of noon Eastern time. The index rose for the previous three days in a row. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,402. The Nasdaq composite was flat at 4,086. Morgan Stanley rose after reporting better results than analysts had forecast. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.68 percent. U.S. marke

  • US average rate on 30-year home loan 4.27 percent

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.

  • Pickens teaming up with family-run Wyoming firm

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — T. Boone Pickens is teaming up with a family-run Wyoming business hoping to become the largest maker of natural gas engines for drilling rigs. The Texas oil tycoon's energy hedge fund, BP Capital, is partnering with Casper-based Moser Energy Systems to create a new company — Mesa Natural Gas Solutions. Moser will continue making the engines and Pickens' fund will promote them. Pickens joined Moser executives in announcing the joint venture Wednesday at its new building in Evansville, the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1h6KGqz ) reported. Moser's engines convert raw natural gas from oil drilling sites into fuel for the engines, eliminating the need to haul diesel to remote sites that don't have elec

  • Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 pct

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.27 percent from 4.34 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.33 percent from 3.38 percent. Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago. Many analysts have been expecting an improving economy to lift the housing market, which has been recovering over the past two years. But housing has struggled to maintain momentum. Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have held back some potential home buyers. Othe

  • AutoNation fights off winter; profit up 15 percent

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A late-March surge in car and truck buying helped dealership group AutoNation Inc. overcome subzero temperatures and waves of winter storms earlier in the year to post nearly a 15 percent increase in first-quarter net income. The country's largest dealership chain with 270 franchises said it earned $95.1 million, or 78 cents per share, from January through March. That compares with $83 million, or 67 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 6.5 percent to $4.36 billion. The news sent AutoNation shares up $1.77, or 3.3 percent, to $55.66 in morning trading after hitting what FactSet says is an all-time high of $56.10 earlier in the day.

  • Philip Morris Int'l 1Q profit falls nearly 12 pct

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Philip Morris International's first-quarter profit dropped nearly 12 percent as cigarette sales fell in the overseas markets that it serves and it was hurt by foreign exchange rates for the U.S. dollar. While adjusted earnings topped Wall Street expectations, shares fell almost 3 percent in early trading. The seller of Marlboro and other cigarette brands outside the United States earned $1.88 billion, or $1.18 per share, in the January-March quarter, down from $2.13 billion, or $1.28 per share, a year ago. On an adjusted basis, it earned $1.19 per share, beating Wall Street estimates by 3 cents, according to FactSet. Excluding excise taxes, revenue fell nearly 9 percent to $6.9 billion. Anal

  • State recommends SW Florida oil drilling approval

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — The state's Department of Environmental Protection has told a judge that it will not rescind a permit for a Texas company that wants to drill an exploratory oil well in southwest Florida. The agency decided against following the recommendation of an advisory committee charged with providing advice and ensuring compliance for drilling in the Big Cypress Swamp area. Assistant Deputy Counsel Jeffrey Brown wrote in an agency's court filing this week that the "committee's observations are generally beyond the department's purview in its consideration of the pending application." Local residents and environmental advocates challenged the permit issued in September to the Dan A. Hughes Co. of Beeville, Te

  • Wal-Mart joins Ria for money transfer service

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is introducing a new money transfer service that it says will cut fees for customers by up to 50 percent compared with similar services. The service, which will be available April 24, allows its customers to transfer up to $900 to and from more than 4,000 Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. The service will be done in partnership with Euronet Worldwide Inc.'s subsidiary Ria Money Transfer. The program has two pricing tiers: Customers can transfer up to $50 for a $4.50 service fee and up to $900 for $9.50. The partnership will expand Wal-Mart's financial services for its low-income shoppers. The competition could hurt competitors. Shares of Moneygram International Inc. fell near

  • How states fared on unemployment benefit claims

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits increased slightly last week to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. The four-week average for claims dipped to its lowest level since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession began. The current level suggests strong momentum for the job market this month. Here are the states with the biggest decreases and increases in applications.

  • Retail gasoline prices up 6 cents across Texas

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    IRVING, Texas (AP) — Retail gasoline prices continue to creep upward as they've risen 6 cents this week across Texas. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump has reached $3.49 per gallon. Gasoline prices nationally rose by a nickel this week to hit an average of $3.66. Drivers in Dallas-Fort Worth are paying the most statewide for gasoline, at $3.57 per gallon. AAA Texas says motorists in El Paso are paying the least at $3.32. Refiners by May 1 must switch to producing a summer-blend gasoline. AAA Texas warns the switch, in addition to other factors, increase the chance of disruptions to production. This in turn could push retail prices further upward.

  • News Summary: Philip Morris Int'l 1Q profit falls

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    THE RESULTS: Philip Morris International Inc.'s first-quarter profit dropped nearly 12 percent to $1.88 billion as cigarette sales fell in the overseas markets that it serves and it was hurt by foreign exchange rates for the U.S. dollar. Excluding excise taxes, revenue fell nearly 9 percent to $6.9 billion. CIGARETTES SOLD: The seller of Marlboro and other brands outside the United States said shipments fell more than 4 percent to 196 billion cigarettes. Total Marlboro volumes fell about 4 percent to 65.9 billion cigarettes. TOUGH ENVIRONMENT: Shipments fell more than 7 percent in the company's region that encompasses Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, due to increased excise taxes in Russia and the prevalence of ill

  • Applications for US jobless aid up 2K to 304,000

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits last week rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. Jobless claims continue to be near pre-recession levels despite the slight increase. The Labor Department says that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 312,000. That is the lowest four-week average since October 2007, just two months before the Great Recession started. The average has fallen by 53,500 applications over the past 12 months. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The current level of claims suggests that employers are holding on their workers with the expectation of stronger economic growth ahead.

  • Americans seeking weekly unemployment benefits rose to 304,000; still at pre-recession levels

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans seeking weekly unemployment benefits rose to 304,000; still at pre-recession levels.

  • Weak Barbie sales weigh on Mattel 1Q

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Toy maker Mattel says weak sales of Barbie and markdowns to clear out excess inventory left over from a sluggish holiday season led to an unexpected first-quarter loss. Its shares fell almost 5 percent in premarket trading. Toy makers are facing a weak environment globally due to the uncertain economy and popularity of electronic gadgets. The first quarter is the seasonally smallest for toy makers, coming after the key holiday quarter which can account for up to 40 percent of revenue. In addition, Mattel Inc. has been struggling with weakness in core brands like Barbie, which had a 14 percent drop in sales, and Fisher-Price, down 6 percent.

  • Pine Ridge man honored for solar energy projects

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The man behind a renewable energy company on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota will be one of ten White House honorees this week. Ten people on Thursday will be honored at a White House Solar Summit for their efforts to expand the production and use of solar energy. Henry Red Cloud is the owner and founder of Lakota Solar Enterprises. His company employs tribal members who manufacture and install solar heating systems for Native Americans. Red Cloud also runs a renewable energy center that provides green job training. The White House says his sustainable energy projects offer Native Americans "a new way to honor the old ways." President Barak Obama has encouraged the development of s

  • Post Holdings to buy Michael Foods for $2.45B

    Updated: Thu, Apr 17, 2014

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Cereal maker Post Holdings Inc. is buying fellow packaged food maker Michael Foods Inc. in a $2.45 billion deal that will expand Post's range of products. Privately held Michael Foods makes a variety of egg, potato and dairy products. Its brands include Papetti's, Crystal Farms and Simply Potatoes. It is based in Minnetonka, Minnesota. St. Louis-based Post says Michael will keep operating independently under current management. Post also makes nutrition drinks and a variety of store brand products including pasta and peanut butter. Post plans to fund the acquisition with debt and cash on hand. It also plans to raise up to $500 million with a stock sale.