• Home Depot says Menear will become CEO on Nov. 1

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Home Depot said Thursday that Craig Menear, the president of its U.S. retail operations, will become president and CEO of the company Nov. 1. Frank Blake has been Home Depot's chairman and CEO since 2007, and he will remain chairman of the company. Menear, 57, became president of the company's U.S. retail unit in February and the company said the move was part of a planned succession. Menear has worked for Home Depot since 1997, and the company said he helped revamp its merchandising operations, strategy, and supply chain as well as bolstering sales growth for Home Depot's website. He has also worked for Ikea, Builders Emporium, and Montgomery Ward. "This has been well-telegraphed.

  • ESPN's Linda Cohn sues NY rink over off-ice injury

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    BREWSTER, N.Y. (AP) — An ESPN anchor is suing a suburban New York hockey rink over a painful off-ice injury. Linda Cohn says a heavy change-making machine fell on her arm at Hudson Valley's Brewster Ice Arena and sliced her so badly she needed 25 stitches. The 54-year-old Southbury, Connecticut, resident raised the allegations in a lawsuit recently served on the rink's owners. She's demanding unspecified damages plus costs and expenses. Cohn's lawyer Jonathan Silver says it happened in March in an arcade area of the rink as she was getting ready to practice for a promotion with a New York Rangers minor league team. Cohn posted a picture on Twitter showing her stitched-up arm looking like a baseball.

  • Study: Wealth gap widened in the last decade

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — A report from the Census Bureau is the latest evidence that the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer. The study released Thursday divided the U.S. into five groups, from wealthiest to poorest. The median net worth of the richest households rose 11 percent between 2000 and 2011, to $630,754. The next-wealthiest group's net worth also rose. But because wealth dropped for the majority of Americans, the median household net worth for the country overall declined about 7 percent to $68,828. A rebound in the stock market and rising home values after the housing bust helped richer Americans regain their wealth since the recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

  • Bank of America settlement likely to benefit few

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Bank of America's record $16.65 billion settlement for its role in selling shoddy mortgage bonds — $7 billion of it geared for consumer relief — offers a glint of hope for desperate homeowners. The settlement requires the second-largest U.S. bank to reduce some homeowners' loan balances, provide new loans to low-income buyers and address areas of neighborhood blight. But consumer advocates say relatively few people will be helped relative to the devastation triggered by the mortgage bonds, which fueled the worst financial crisis since the 1930s and threw millions of homes into foreclosure. Only a fraction of homeowners would be eligible for refinancing under the settlement.

  • US housing recovery appears to be back on track

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A fourth straight monthly increase in sales of existing homes provided the latest evidence Thursday that the U.S. housing market is rebounding from a weak start to the year. Housing has been a drag on an otherwise strengthening economy, in part because a harsh winter delayed many sales. But Americans are stepping up purchases as more homes have been put up for sale. And low mortgage rates and moderating price gains have made homes more affordable. "The momentum is in the right direction," said Andrew Labelle, an economist at TD Bank who noted that the past four months have marked the fastest four-month sales gain since 2011.

  • North Dakota regulator outlines rail safety plan

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota regulator outlined details Thursday of her proposal for a state-run rail safety program, which calls for adding three employees to help bolster federal oversight of the state's busy railroads. Rail traffic in North Dakota has increased dramatically in recent years, with the state's oil boom producing more than 1 million barrels of oil daily. Much of that oil is moved out of state by rail, and mishaps, such as a fiery oil train derailment last December, have driven calls for additional regulation. Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak's plan calls for hiring two inspectors — a track inspector and an equipment inspector — as well as a rail safety manager.

  • NKorea launch pad expansion 'nearing completion'

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Construction to upgrade North Korea's main rocket launch pad should be complete by this fall, allowing Pyongyang to conduct a launch by year's end if it decides to do so, a U.S. research institute said Thursday. The U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies is basing its conclusions on commercial satellite imagery of the Korean west coast site of Sohae. The latest photo is from Aug. 8. The institute says construction is nearing completion at the launch pad to handle larger rockets than the Unha-3 that was blasted into space from Sohae in December 2012. North Korea has worked rapidly to expand the launch tower, and has progressed on a railway to access it.

  • Gap reports higher profit, plans India expansion

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gap Inc. said its profit rose 10 percent in the second quarter as the clothing retailer cut expenses and managed to lift sales. The San Francisco-based company also said it plans to open Gap stores in India next year. The first locations will open in the country's two largest cities, Mumbai and Delhi. Over time, the company expects about 40 franchise-operated locations in India. For the quarter, Gap said sales at established stores around the world were flat. The performance reflected a 5 percent decline at Gap, flat sales at Banana Republic, and growth of 4 percent at Old Navy. That measurement is a key indicator because it strips out the volatility of newly opened and closed locations.

  • Tech Tips: Sprint's good rates come with a price

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — In revamping its prices and plans this week, Sprint is joining Verizon and AT&T in letting families share pools of data. The new Sprint plans are available starting Friday and reward families that need a lot of data. But the company is also keeping an unlimited-data plan that's beneficial for individuals — and competes with a similar T-Mobile offering. Now that most Americans have cellphones, wireless companies have been trying to lure consumers with lower prices. And to increase revenue from existing customers, the carriers have been pushing services with higher data allotments.

  • Hormel Foods and Hertz are big market movers

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market: NYSE Hormel Foods Corp., up $2.06 to $49.92 The maker of Spam and Dinty Moore stew reported a 21 percent jump in quarterly profit, topping Wall Street expectations. Hertz Global Holdings Inc., down 23 cents to $30.10 Activist investor Carl Icahn has taken an 8.5 percent stake in the rental car company and may seek representation on its board. Hewlett-Packard Co., up $1.88 to $37 The personal computer and printer maker reported a 29 percent quarterly profit drop, but its adjusted results met expectations. Stage Stores Inc., down $1.47 to $17.

  • TVA board votes to retire Memphis coal plant

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority's board voted Thursday to retire the coal-fired Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis and replace it with a natural-gas facility, marking another step by the nation's largest utility to reduce its reliance on coal. CEO Bill Johnson said the $975 million, 1,000-megawatt natural-gas fired plant will significantly cut emissions of carbon dioxide and gases that cause smog, while providing power to about 580,000 homes. The 55-year-old Allen coal plant generates about 4.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough for 340,000 homes. The TVA said the plant consumes about 7,200 tons of coal daily.

  • Unexpected summer blockbuster: Chinese stock funds

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Surprise: One of the summer's hottest investments was also one of the most anxiety-inducing a few months earlier. Dollars are pouring into China again despite worries about the country's slowing economic growth. Chinese stock mutual funds have returned an average of 12.5 percent over the last three months, making them the second-best fund category of the 105 that Morningstar tracks. Mutual fund managers say they still see opportunities in Chinese stocks, even though the recent gains mean they're no longer as cheap as they were. But investors hoping to take advantage should be mindful that Chinese stocks have a long history of jagged swings, one that has made even steadfast buy-and-hold investors nervous.

  • S&P 500 closes at a record; Hewlett-Packard gains

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Another round of buying on the stock market is sending the Standard & Poor's 500 index to its latest record high. Traders were encouraged by earnings gains and a decline last week in the number of people applying for unemployment benefits. The S&P 500 rose five points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 1,992 Thursday. That's four points above the record close it reached July 24. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 60 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,039. The Nasdaq composite edged up five points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,532. Hewlett-Packard rose 5 percent after the company reported its first sales increase in nearly three years. Sears fell 7 percent after reporting a wider loss. Bond prices rose. T

  • Ford recalling more than 160,000 vehicles

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 160,000 vehicles in North America for two safety issues. The largest recall involves 159,395 Focus ST and Escape vehicles from the 2013 and 2014 model years. Ford says their engines could hesitate or stall because of a wiring problem. Ford also is recalling 616 Focus and C-Max cars made earlier this month because their steering gears don't have the proper number of ball bearings. That can potentially degrade the remaining ball bearings and lead to a loss of steering control. Ford says there have been no accidents or injuries related to either recall. The 616 cars are still at dealerships and haven't been sold. Ford Motor Co. will notify customers and repair the vehicles

  • Maine GOP comes under fire for campaign mailer

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Democrats are calling on the Republican Party to retract campaign mailers that they say falsely blame gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud for the loss of jobs at a paper mill in northern Maine. In the advertisement, Republicans link a law that Michaud sponsored 12 years ago to the recent layoff of more than 200 workers at the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket, where the Democrat aiming to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage worked for 29 years. Michaud spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said the ad is deliberately misleading and attempts to capitalize on the loss of jobs, which she said is "a slap in the face to all those workers who are unemployed." The law, which independent Gov.

  • 6,500 tickets sold for pipeline opposition concert

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NELIGH, Neb. (AP) — Organizers say nearly all the $50 tickets for a Willie Nelson and Neil Young concert organized by opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have been sold. The group Bold Nebraska said in a statement Thursday more than 6,500 of the 7,000 tickets for the Sept. 27 concert had been sold since Wednesday. The TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast. The concert will be held on a farm near Neligh that's in the proposed path. Pipeline critics worry it could contribute to pollution and contaminate groundwater. Young and Nelson have said they agreed to perform to highlight concerns. TransCanada says the pipeline would be built with advanced safety feat

  • USS Saratoga carrier heads off to be scrapped

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — The decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga left its port in Rhode Island on Thursday for its final journey to Texas, where it will be scrapped. The ship departed Naval Station Newport and made its way down Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It is heading to the Esco Marine ship recycling plant in Brownsville, Texas. The Saratoga was supposed to leave Wednesday, but the voyage was postponed because of concern that storms were developing along the route. Esco Marine is being paid a penny by the Navy to dispose of the Saratoga. It plans to make money by selling what it recovers from the ship.

  • Gauge of US economy rises 0.9 percent in July

    Updated: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    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: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    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: Thu, Aug 21, 2014

    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