AP Business NewsBrief at 9:35 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Practically human: Can smart machines do your job WASHINGTON (AP) _ Art Liscano knows he's an endangered species in the job market: He's a meter reader in Fresno, Calif. For 26 years, he's driven from house to house, checking how much electricity Pacific Gas & Electric customers have used. But PG&E doesn't need many people like Liscano making rounds anymore. Every day, the utility replaces 1,200 old-fashioned meters with digital versions that can collect information without human help, generate more accurate power bills, even send an alert if the power goes out.
Apple's sales slowdown tugs Nasdaq index lowerNEW YORK (AP) _ A sharp drop in Apple's stock pulled the Nasdaq down with it after the tech giant warned of weaker sales. Other stock-market indexes eked out slight gains. Apple sank $63.50 to $430.50. With iPhone sales hitting a plateau and no new products to introduce, Apple said sales would likely increase just 7 percent in the current quarter. That's a let-down for a company that has regularly posted growth rates above 50 percent.
Sandy blow to NJ: costly work or costlier premiumsSEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) _ Superstorm Sandy landed one final stunning blow to New Jersey on Thursday as the state adopted rebuilding guidelines that come with sticker shock. They will force homeowners in flood zones to spend tens of thousands of dollars to raise their houses now or pay exorbitant premiums of up to $31,000 a year for flood insurance later.
Obama picks former prosecutor to head SECWASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama sent his strongest signal yet Thursday that he wants the government to get tougher with Wall Street, appointing a former prosecutor to head the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time in the agency's 79-year history. Mary Jo White, former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has an extensive record of prosecuting white-collar crime, won convictions in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 terrorist attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, and put crime boss John Gotti away.
Starbucks profit climbs as US cafes thriveNEW YORK (AP) _ Americans still need their Starbucks fix even in the weak economy. The Seattle-based coffee chain said Thursday its profit rose 13 percent in the latest quarter in line with Wall Street expectations. Results were boosted by a 6 percent increase in global sales at cafes open at least a year, a key metric of health.
Analysts to Apple: Bend your knee to Wall StreetNEW YORK (AP) _ Apple needs to start making nice with Wall Street, analysts said Thursday as investors hammered the company's stock. The sell-off put Apple a hair's-breadth away from losing its status as the world's most valuable company. At Thursday's close, it was worth $423 billion, just 1.6 percent more than No. 2 Exxon Mobil Corp.
Netflix enjoys marquee day as stock soars 42 pctSAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Netflix's rollercoaster ride on Wall Street surged to new heights Thursday. The company's stock climbed $43.60 to close at $146.86 as investors celebrated a fourth-quarter earnings report highlighted by accelerated growth in Netflix's Internet video service.
Samsung 4Q profits top forecasts on Galaxy salesSEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Samsung Electronics Co. said fourth-quarter profits soared a better-than-expected 76 percent, boosted by the popularity of its Galaxy smartphones. But the company expects earnings during the current quarter to decline due to seasonally low demand for consumer electronics. It is also leaving its 2013 capital expenditure at the same level as last year, underlining the uncertainty in the demand outlook and concerns about rapidly declining demand for personal computers.
AT&T gains customers in 4Q, posts big lossNEW YORK (AP) _ The launch of the iPhone 5 helped AT&T attract more new customers in the holiday quarter than it has in three years, but the company posted a big loss because of an annual adjustment to its pension obligations. AT&T Inc. on Thursday said it added a net 780,000 new phones and other devices on contract-based plans from October to December, its best result in three years. It activated 8.6 million iPhones in the quarter _ a record for any company. AT&T was the first company to introduce the iPhone in 2007, and has more iPhone users than any other U.S. carrier.
Microsoft's 2Q earnings dip despite Windows 8 liftSAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Microsoft's latest quarterly earnings slipped, even as the world's largest software maker showed modest progress adapting to a shift away from the personal computers that have been its financial foundation for decades. The results announced Thursday are the first to include Windows 8. The program is a dramatic overhaul of the Microsoft Corp. operating system that powers most PCs. Windows 8 came out Oct. 26 with slightly more than two months left in Microsoft's fiscal second quarter.
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