AP Business NewsBrief at 5:52 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Flu season puts businesses and employees in a bindWASHINGTON (AP) _ Nearly half the 70 employees at a Ford dealership in Clarksville, Ind., have been out sick at some point in the past month. It didn't have to be that way, the boss says. "If people had stayed home in the first place, a lot of times that spread wouldn't have happened," says Marty Book, a vice president at Carriage Ford. "But people really want to get out and do their jobs, and sometimes that's a detriment."
FAA to review of Boeing 787, but calls plane safeWASHINGTON (AP) _ The government stepped in Friday to assure the public that Boeing's new 787 "Dreamliner" is safe to fly, even as it launched a comprehensive review to find out what caused a fire, a fuel leak and other worrisome incidents this week. Despite the incidents, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared, "I believe this plane is safe, and I would have absolutely no reservations about boarding one of these planes and taking a flight." Administrator Michael Huerta of the Federal Aviation Administration said his agency has seen no data suggesting the plane isn't safe but wanted the review to find out why safety-related incidents were occurring.
Why Boeing's 787, the Dreamliner, is under reviewNEW YORK (AP) _ Boeing's 787 Dreamliner had a nightmare of a week, capped off Friday by the Federal Aviation Administration's decision to review everything about the new airplane, including its entire design and manufacturing process. Government officials were quick to say that the jet is safe _ nearly 50 of them are in the skies. However, a fire Monday and a subsequent spate of technical problems stirred serious concerns.
Stocks gain for second week, keeping S&P near highNEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks gained for a second straight week as company earnings reports started to come in, keeping the Standard and Poor's 500 index within a fraction of its highest level in five years. The S&P 500 was little changed Friday, and gained 5 points in the week to close at 1,472.05. The index is a fraction below its close of 1,472.12 Thursday, its highest level since December 2007.
Can Europe's markets climb through the slump NEW YORK (AP) _ The big worry a year ago was that Greece would collapse under its debts, upend Europe's markets and set off a global financial crisis. But the world's most dangerous bond market turned out to be one of the world's best bets last year: Greece's government bonds soared 97 percent as the debt crisis eased. Across Europe, many of the region's stock markets outpaced those in the U.S. "It has been a great investment opportunity, because a year ago at this time Europe was a big mess," said Geoffrey Pazzanese, who manages an international stock fund at Federated Investors.
Microsoft may have exited gadget show prematurelyLAS VEGAS (AP) _ Microsoft may have relinquished its starring role in America's gaudiest gadget show a year too early. After 13 straight years in the spotlight, Microsoft's decision to scale back its presence at this week's International CES deprived the software maker of a prime opportunity to explain and promote a new generation of redesigned computers running its radically remade Windows operating system.
Gadget Watch: Long-battery watch talks to iPhoneLAS VEGAS (AP) _ "Smart" watches that talk to cellphones have been around for some time, but they've been hampered by their high battery drain _ usually needing recharging every few days. At this week's International CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas, a startup launched a smart watch, the Cookoo, that runs for a year on a standard button cell. WHAT IT IS: The Cookoo is a somewhat beefy watch, most suited for the male wrist. It has analog hands to show the time, but the watch face can also display several digital indicators, prompted by Bluetooth signals from your smartphone. Aided by beeps and a vibration motor, it can tell you that someone is calling or that you missed a call. It can also alert you about new email or an appointment. The watch can also talk back to the phone, so you can use it as a remote release for the camera.
US trade gap grows to $48.7B, as imports surgeWASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. trade deficit expanded in November to its widest point in seven months, driven by a surge in imports that outpaced only modest growth in exports. The Commerce Department report Friday suggests trade will drag on economic growth in the October-December quarter. A wider trade gap slows growth because it means Americans spent more on foreign products while U.S. businesses earned less in overseas sales.
US budget deficit grows by $260M in DecemberWASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. annual budget deficit is on track to reach $1 trillion for a fifth straight year, though government revenue jumped last month as people paid some taxes early to avoid higher rates in 2013. The Treasury Department said Friday that the federal deficit grew just $260 million in December. But for the first three months of the budget year, the deficit widened to $292 billion.
USDA: Drought cut corn crop by about one-fourthDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ For farmers like Earl Williams, last year couldn't have started out better or ended much worse as a warm, sunny spring that let him plant early gave way to record heat and drought that devastated his corn. Williams ended up with about two-thirds of the crop he expected, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Friday showed most corn farmers didn't fare much better. The final report on the 2012 growing season showed farmers harvested 10.78 billion bushels of corn, less than three-fourths of what the agency predicted last spring.
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