• Consumer spending up a weak 0.1 percent in October

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer spending posted a modest increase for a second straight month in October, while personal income rebounded after a sluggish September. Spending edged up 0.1 percent after a similar tiny gain in September, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Incomes jumped 0.4 percent, double the rise in September. Wages and salaries climbed 0.6 percent. That was the strongest wage gain in five months and a reflection of the big surge in hiring that occurred last month. The second straight month of spending weakness could signal trouble, given that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. However, economists are counting on the strong labor market to bolster the incomes needed to

  • Cell phones at the dinner table? You might need a 'family digital detox'

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    Are cell phones making their way into family mealtime? Instead of looking and chatting with each other, are your heads bent, catching up on texts, emails and status updates? Maybe you planned to put the phone away after quickly checking just one more thing, but suddenly the dishes are in the sink, and you've barely looked up. Jessica Kendorski, a psychologist with Philadelphia Osteopathic Medicine, suggests using the holidays as the perfect time to break that bad habit and bring conversation to the dinner table once again. "Research has shown that the mere presence of a phone limits the chance for real connection and in-depth conversation, because the assumption is the phone could cause an interruption at any moment," K

  • Orders for US durable goods rise strong 3 percent in October

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods posted a solid gain in October after two months of weakness, while a key category that tracks business investment plans advanced by the largest amount in three months. Orders for durable goods rose 3 percent in October following declines in both September and August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The strength was led by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft but reflected widespread gains in a number of categories, from machinery to computers. A key category that serves as a proxy for business investment spending rose 1.3 percent in October, the best showing since July. American manufacturers have struggled this year with weakness in many key expo

  • Fewer Americans sought unemployment aid last week as applications fall to very low 260,000

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment aid last week as applications fall to very low 260,000.

  • 19 people ill in E. coli linked to Costco chicken salad

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    SEATTLE (AP) — The strain of E. Coli linked to Costco chicken salad that has sickened 19 people in seven states is more likely to be life-threatening than a recent foodborne illness that led to the closure of some Chipotle restaurants in the Northwest People who bought chicken salad at any U.S. Costco store on or before Friday were advised to throw it away, even if no one has gotten sick. The strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can be life-threatening, but no deaths have been reported in the current outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said five people have been hospitalized and two have developed a type of kidney failure.

  • Cheap gas fueling expanded Thanksgiving travel day

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — An expanded version of America's annual Thanksgiving travel saga has begun with gas prices low and terrorism fears high. An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to the motoring organization AAA. That would be an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007. Among the reasons given for the increase: an improving economy and the cheapest gasoline for this time of year since 2008. On Tuesday, some travelers were gearing up for an early exit.

  • Following strong earns, Hormel anounces 2-for-1 stock split

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Hormel is announcing a two-for-one split a day after the company reported a strong fourth quarter and outlook. The company is projecting higher sales from organic meats producer Applegate, which it bought earlier this year. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Ettinger said Wednesday that the split "demonstrates our confidence that we will continue to grow our sales and earnings." Shares hit an all-time high Tuesday. The stock split, which would increase the number of shares to 1.6 billion from 800 million, requires shareholder approval. Hormel Foods Corp., based in Austin, Minnesota, set Jan. 26 as the record date for shareholders to be eligible for the split. It would be effective around Feb. 9.

  • Norman nanotechnologies company files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    Once hailed as an example of a promising Oklahoma tech startup, Norman-based company SouthWest NanoTechnologies has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company produce single-wall carbon nanotubes — tiny, but strong particles used to manufacture touch screens and solar lighting products, among other uses. The nanotubes are about a nanometer — one billionth of a meter — wide. The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, meaning the tech company's assets will be liquidated to satisfy its debts. In court documents, SouthWest estimated it had about $5 million in assets and $11.7 million in debts. Among the company's assets listed in court documents are several U.S.

  • Revised nuclear deal between South Korea, US takes effect

    Updated: 13 hr ago

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A new nuclear treaty with the United States governing South Korea's commercial nuclear activities during the next 20 years went into effect Wednesday, the South Korean government said. The treaty, which replaces a previous accord reached in 1972, opens the possibility of South Korea gaining the ability to enrich uranium to produce non-weapons-grade nuclear fuel depending on future negotiations with the United States. The new treaty took effect after South Korea's foreign minister and the U.S. ambassador exchanged documents in Seoul, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The countries agreed to the revised treaty in April after spending several years arguing over whether South Korea should

  • Utility plans to mask awful odor from uncontrolled gas leak

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A utility trying to stop a monthlong leak at a massive natural gas storage facility near a Los Angeles neighborhood said it planned to use a mist to mask the sickening stench as work continues — possibly for three more months — to plug the well. SoCalGas officials told county supervisors Tuesday that the substance is safe and would neutralize the rotten-egg smell that has led to more than 660 complaints by residents to the air board about nausea, headaches and dizziness. Porter Ranch residents attended the supervisors meeting to criticize the company's delay in owning up to the leak that began Oct. 23 and said they are wary of claims the deodorizing mist is harmless and fear it could cause unknown che

  • Black Friday madness missing in rural Alaska communities

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Black Friday in rural Alaska doesn't mean long lines and pushy shoppers ready to do battle for sweet deals. Consumers in places off the state's limited road system can find a few moderate price breaks on electronics and other stuff for several days after Thanksgiving at local grocery stores that sell all kinds of goods. But for those wanting a taste of the urban shopping madness, they can always go to Anchorage or Fairbanks. Huge savings are hard to find for people living in the state's most remote communities, where costs are matched by equally steep prices to ship goods. Neal Fried, an economist in the state Department of Labor, says the communities lack the competition in metropolitan

  • The Latest: About 40,000 without power in western Washington

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    SEATTLE (AP) — The latest on the deadly windstorm that swept across the Pacific Northwest (all times local): 9:45 p.m. Utility officials say crews are working through the night to help restore power to more than 40,000 customers west of Seattle after another round of strong winds. The gusts over 50 mph on Tuesday felled trees and power lines and mostly affected the Kitsap Peninsula, where Puget Sound Energy reported about 200 outages affecting more than 40,000 customers. Tuesday's wind gusts were unrelated to a storm last week in eastern Washington. Crews in the Spokane area are still trying to restore power to about 20,000 customers affected by the damaging weather Nov. 17.

  • BRIEF: Software problem hindered Texas driver's license renewals

    Updated: 19 hr ago

    Getting or renewing a Texas driver's license was impossible for several hours Tuesday. Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said that an outside vendor's program that works in conjunction with the agency's software went down statewide. Vinger could not say how long the outage lasted or what caused the glitch. But the system was again functional by mid-afternoon, he said. ——— ©2015 Austin American-Statesman, Texas Visit Austin American-Statesman, Texas at www.statesman.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

  • Asian shares lower on jitters over strife in Middle East

    Updated: 20 hr ago

    TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly lower Wednesday as investors kept a wary eye on developments in the Middle East after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.5 percent to 19,821.14 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.5 percent to 22,473.38. China's Shanghai Composite Index was little changed while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 2,011.40. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5 percent to 5,199.10. Stock benchmarks also fell in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand while Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines rose. TURKEY-RUSSIA: The downing by Turkey of a Russian fighter plane that Turkey said had violated its airspace and ignored warnings added further complexity to the cri

  • 8 injured in fire at Mexican oil refinery

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's state-run oil company said a fire Tuesday at one of its refineries has injured eight people. Petroleos Mexicanos said in a statement that its firefighters had controlled the blaze at the Antonio Dovali Jaime refinery in the southern state of Oaxaca. It said none of the injuries to two Pemex workers and six contractors was serious. The company said it was investigating the cause, but that the supply of petroleum products was guaranteed. It was a day of bad news for Pemex, as the company is known. Moody's Investors Services downgraded Pemex' foreign and local currency ratings from A3 to Baa1.

  • Michigan, Fiat Chrysler reach deal on tax credits

    Updated: 21 hr ago

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Fiat Chrysler will have to spend an additional $1 billion on Michigan facilities over 15 years to qualify for $1.9 billion in business tax credits under an agreement approved Tuesday by the state's economic development board. The deal, the second with a Detroit Three automaker this year, is designed to help Michigan get a better handle on billions in tax incentives given to keep auto jobs in the state, primarily during the economic downturn. The redemption of higher-than-expected credits led to mid-budget year spending cuts in February. The agreement amends a 2010 deal between what was then Chrysler Group LLC (now FCA US LLC) and the former Michigan Economic Growth Authority. The carmaker at the time w

  • Lights out leaves cold, boredom for 20,000 in Washington

    Updated: 22 hr ago

    SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — It's been cold, dark and boring. Nearly 20,000 households in Spokane — Washington's second-largest city — were surviving Tuesday after almost a week without heaters, lamps and TV screens because howling winds ripped apart power lines, trees and the electrical grid. Gov. Jay Inslee visited Spokane to inspect damage from the worst windstorm in the region's history, promising to explore whether Spokane County qualifies for federal disaster assistance. The storm Nov. 17 packed gusts up to 70 mph that cracked trees and sent them crashing onto cars, killing three people in the state. More than 180,000 customers lost power at the storm's peak, and those still in the dark face a freezing foreca

  • Arizona health insurance co-op to close shop Dec. 31

    Updated: 23 hr ago

    PHOENIX (AP) — Executives with Arizona's nonprofit health insurance co-op said Tuesday that they have failed to come up with additional financial backing and the insurer plans to shut down all operations Dec. 31. The announcement by Meritus Health Partners means 59,000 Arizonans it now covers need to find a new insurer by Dec. 15 if they want coverage on Jan. 1. The decision comes nearly a month after the state Department of Insurance suspended its right to sell new policies or renew current ones and placed it under formal supervision. Federal officials also pulled its policies from the health insurance marketplace website late last month.

  • Metro Phoenix transit CEO resigns amid expense report probe

    Updated: 23 hr ago

    PHOENIX (AP) — The CEO of the Phoenix metropolitan area's bus and light-rail systems announced his resignation Tuesday amid a newspaper's investigation into his expense reports, which included first-class flights and expensive dinner and hotel tabs. Valley Metro officials announced Steve Banta will be leaving the company in January, but they didn't immediately give a reason. Banta said in a statement he plans to "pursue other and unique challenges in the transit industry." The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday it had been investigating the expenses incurred by Banta, who has been Valley Metro's CEO since January 2010 and reportedly has an annual salary of almost $265,000.

  • Alaska buys out company's interest in gas pipeline project

    Updated: 23 hr ago

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Bill Walker announced Tuesday the completion of the state's acquisition of TransCanada Corp.'s interest in a major gas project Alaska is pursuing, calling it an historic day. "By gaining an equal seat at the negotiating table, we are taking control of our destiny and making significant progress in our effort to deliver Alaska gas to the global market," Walker said in a news release. The Legislature, meeting in a special session earlier this month, approved funding for the state to take a greater stake in the project and buy out the Canadian pipeline company's interest. The Walker administration argued that a buyout would increase the state's voting rights and allow the state to have a more direct