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Updated: 4 years 6 months ago

JetBlue Worst Airline for Holiday Travel

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 1:31pm
The Northeastern U.S. is not the best place to be traveling from this holiday season. Research found that the majority of the most efficient airlines for holiday travel are West Coast based, while the popular East Coast airline JetBlue ranked last, according to the data from flight tracking firm FlightAware and reported by Forbes. The list of the best and worst airlines for on-time arrivals found that only 6.92% of Hawaiian Airline flights experienced delayed arrivals during the past three years, compared with JetBlue’s 22% of late landings. Analyzing data for 18 major and regional U.S. airlines over two of the busiest travel periods each year — Thanksgiving and the holiday season between Christmas and New Year — FlightAware looked at arrival delays from 2010 to 2012. The list focused on arrival delays rather than departure delays since airplanes can often make up a late take-off in the air. Overall, most airlines have improved Thanksgiving travel with just 12% of late arrivals last year, versus 19% in 2010. But the winter holiday between Christmas and New Years still hampers flight schedules, with 30% of all flights delayed last year. Though JetBlue came in last, the now-shuttered Comair, a regional carrier for Delta Air Lines, actually ranked worst but closed before the holiday season began in 2012. [Forbes]
Categories: Financial News

S&P 500 Drops JC Penney After Staggering Losses

Sun, 11/24/2013 - 10:43am
Standard & Poor is dropping JC Penney from its S&P 500 Index and replacing the troubled retailer with door lock company Allegion. The department store retailer’s plummeting market value, which fell 37% this year to $2.7 billion, makes “more representative of the mid cap market,” S&P said in a statement. The change will take place after the close of trading on Nov. 29, moving the residential and commercial lock company Allegion into JC Penney’s place. The Texas-based company has faced staggering quarterly losses over the past year, its worst sales record in two decades, with shares falling 55 percent this year. [Bloomberg]
Categories: Financial News

Boeing Advises About Engine Icing Problems

Sat, 11/23/2013 - 3:07pm
(WASHINGTON) — Boeing is alerting airlines about possible engine icing problems on some of its new planes. It is recommending that planes with a specific General Electric engine avoid flying near thunderstorms that might contain ice crystals. Boeing says it issued the advisory after ice crystal formation in some instances diminished engine performance. Airlines with planes affected include United, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and Air India. Models affected are the 747-8 and the 787, which Boeing Co. calls the Dreamliner. Boeing recommended that affected planes fly at least 50 nautical miles from thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals. It’s the latest problem to confront the 787. Earlier this year, air safety authorities grounded the 787 after two planes suffered from smoldering batteries. Flights resumed after Boeing redesigned the battery system.
Categories: Financial News

Comcast Emerges as Potential Bidder for Time Warner Cable

Sat, 11/23/2013 - 1:14pm
Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable operator, is mulling a bid to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc., which is also being pursued by the considerably smaller Charter Communications. Time Warner Cable approached the much larger Comcast, but Comcast may also want to work with Charter to break up Time Warner Cable’s assets, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. Time Warner executives are resistant to any deal that will not maximize shareholder value, according to the Los Angeles Times. A Comcast-Time Warner merger would put the cable company in the same league as satellite TV providers like DirectTV and Dish Network, stave off increasing programming costs, and convince cable subscribers to stick around. But it’s not clear how serious Comcast is about a deal and whether federal regulators would approve it. [Wall Street Journal]
Categories: Financial News

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Expects Feds to Clear Model S in Fires

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 6:28pm
(DETROIT) — The leader of upstart automaker Tesla Motors is confident that its Model S car is safe and will be cleared by a federal investigation into two battery fires. CEO Elon Musk said the fires, which occurred when metal road debris pierced the underbody of the cars at highway speeds, are extreme cases. He doesn’t expect a recall and said his engineers are not working on any fixes for the battery-powered cars. “In both cases it was a large piece of metal essentially braced against the tarmac,” Musk said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. No one was hurt in the fires, which happened along freeways near Seattle and Nashville, Tenn. starting Oct. 1. Another fire happened in Mexico after the driver ran through a concrete wall at more than 100 mph. Musk said no one has ever been hurt in a Model S crash, which shows there’s no safety problem for drivers or passengers. The only other reason to investigate is economic loss from the fires, but that’s not an issue because Tesla amended its warranty to cover fire loss in crashes, Musk said. “I’m not saying it can’t happen again,” he said. “I’m saying in any kind of low-speed impact, you’re fine. Any car, Model S or not Model S, the underside is going to get significantly damaged if you drive over a large metal object.” Musk described the weeks since the fires as “torture.” He said the crashes have received an unreasonable amount of media attention given that no one was injured. He understands that a new technology such as electric cars will get more scrutiny, “but not to the insane degree that we’re receiving.” Tesla’s stock price has dropped by 37 percent since the first fire. Some investors and analysts also were disappointed by the company’s third-quarter results. But Musk said the stock’s value, which earlier in the year had risen 470 percent to $194.50, got too high and the market is correcting it. “I believe I said several times that the valuation
Categories: Financial News

Pixar Lays Off Up To 5 Percent on ‘Dinosaur’ Delay

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 4:51pm
(LOS ANGELES) — Disney subsidiary Pixar is laying off up to 5 percent of its 1,200 employees after it pushed back the release of “The Good Dinosaur” to November 2015 from next May. That’s according to a person familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter involved personnel. The Walt Disney Co. released a statement saying Pixar is always re-evaluating its creative and business needs. “With the release date change of ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ we have realigned our production and support priorities, which (include) a small reduction in our staffing levels,” it said in a statement. The person said the layoffs occurred earlier in the week. The delay of “The Good Dinosaur” means 2014 will be the first year since 2005 that Pixar hasn’t released an animated movie.
Categories: Financial News

S&P 500 Closes Above 1800 for First Time

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:34pm
The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed above 1800 for the first time Friday, setting yet another record as stocks continue to surge. The S&P 500 index closed at 1804.76 Friday, up 8.91 points or 0.5%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which closed Thursday above 1600 for the first time, also gained, rising .34% to 16064.77. Stocks rose, with the Dow Jones marking its longest weekly win streak in nearly three years, despite indications this week that the Fed would curb stimulus policies as early as December. [CNBC]
Categories: Financial News

Coroner: Merrill Lynch Intern Died from Epilepsy

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 2:06pm
(LONDON) — A British coroner says a young intern who worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch died of an epileptic seizure that may have been triggered by fatigue. The body of 21-year-old Moritz Erhardt was found in the shower of his London flat in August. The case has sparked widespread speculation that the notorious long working hours and competitive environment at top investment banks were to blame for his death. Coroner Mary Hassell said Friday that Erhardt died after an epileptic seizure, despite regularly taking medication. She told an inquest one possibility was that “because Moritz had been working so hard his fatigue was a trigger for the seizure that killed him.” The bank said in August it has launched a review of its working conditions, especially for its junior staff.
Categories: Financial News

College Classmate Sues Snapchat Founders, CEO Admits He “Deserves Something”

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 12:51pm
A former college classmate is filling a  lawsuit against Snapchat, which is  similar to another famous lawsuit filed against Facebook by the Winklevoss twins. The CEO of Snapchat admits in a disposition that Reggie Brown deserves something.
Categories: Financial News

Unemployment Falls in Most U.S. States in October

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 11:15am
(WASHINGTON) — Unemployment fell in 28 U.S. states last month, and employers added jobs in 34 states. The gains suggest recent improvements in the job market have occurred in most regions of the country. The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in 11 states and were flat in 11. Employers cut jobs in 15 states. The biggest job gains occurred in Florida, California and North Carolina. Kentucky, Washington state, and New Jersey lost the most jobs. Job growth was unchanged in Pennsylvania. Hiring has picked up nationwide, according to the government’s October jobs report released earlier this month. That report showed employers added 204,000 positions last month, up from 163,000 in September. The unemployment rate nationally ticked up to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent, in part because of the 16-day partial government shutdown. The shutdown caused temporary layoffs among government workers and some contractors. But outside that increase, most employers appeared to have shrugged off the shutdown. Florida gained 44,600 jobs. The biggest gains were in both better-paying and lower-paying fields. Most of the gains were in construction; hotels, restaurants and entertainment; and in the professional services category, which includes accountants, engineers, and temporary workers. California added 39,800 positions, also in a mix of fields. The biggest gains were in government, education and health, and in retail, transportation and utilities. Nevada continued to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 9.3 percent. That is down from 9.4 percent in September. The states with the next highest rates were Rhode Island, at 9.2 percent; Michigan, 9 percent; Illinois, 8.9 percent; and California, 8.7 percent. North Dakota had the lowest rate, at 2.7 percent, down from 2.8 percent a month earlier. South Dakota reported the second-lowest rate, at 3.7 percent, followed by Nebraska, with 3.9 percent.
Categories: Financial News

Why the Business Sector Will Pick Our Next President

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 10:17am
The outcome of the 2012 presidential elections was widely touted as a win for average Americans and a defeat for big money, which overwhelmingly seemed to back the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.  But the reality is that corporate money followed both parties in that race, and the deciding factor was not the amount but the fact that the GOP’s candidate simply did not match the public’s mood.  Romney’s donors erroneously assumed that an extremely conservative and elitist GOP party representative could succeed in 2012, but they turned out to be wrong. That calculation by the business sector is now changing, and in the process, aligning its immediate interests with the wishes of voters, which can potentially determine who our next president will be. The tipping point was the government shutdown this year and the subsequent down-to-the-wire game of chicken that our political leaders played over the federal debt ceiling.  While the markets shrugged off the threats for the most part, the business sector was still disturbed by how close we came to the edge.  Corporate leaders ranging from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon vented their extreme displeasure with everyone in Washington – but mostly the GOP, in letting this happen.  Immediately following this, Ken Cucinelli, the Tea Party favorite in the Virginia governor’s race and the frontrunner, lost the race reputedly due to a lack of financial support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the business sector in general.  In another race, Bradley Byrne, a GOP establishment candidate, won an Alabama congressional seat in a runoff against a Tea Party flamethrower, with considerable support from the business community. The business sector, it seems, is leaning towards moderation, or at least to left of the far right, and that is in keeping with the public sentiment in general.  Following the shutdown, the GOP’s disapproval rating rose to 63 percent and even the Democrats suffered with a disapproval rating of 49%.  Americans are sick of gridlock and want to see a functioning government.  That cannot happen
Categories: Financial News

What the Obamacare Rollout Means for the Healthcare Business

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 10:04am
Which health and medical businesses stand to gain and lose from the faulty roll out of Obamacare? I discussed the topic this week on WNYC’s Money Talking, with the New York Times columnist Joe Nocera. Our contrarian consensus—the biggest short-term loser will be the insurance companies. They rarely garner anyone’s sympathy, but they’ve already set their premium pricing for 2014—so if the flawed rollout results in fewer people, and sicker people signing up, there’s a good chance they’ll loose money. That would likely mean higher premiums the following year—and fewer and sicker people signing up. It’s a cycle called the death spiral—and it’s what everyone involved in the rollout has been dreading. To hear more about this, and the other business implications of the Affordable Healthcare Act, check out this week’s episode of Money talking, here:
Categories: Financial News

You Can Now Pay for Your Rocket Trip to Space Using Fake Money

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 10:02am
Sir Richard Branson announced Friday that Virgin Galactic, his commercial space flight venture, will accept the cyber currency bitcoin as payment for future rocket travel. Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur and an early bitcoin investor, teased the idea in a tweet before elaborating in a blog post and appearing on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (below) via Skype from Necker Island, his private Caribbean enclave. Labeling the digital payment option “a new exciting currency,” he said Virgin Galactic has already accepted its first bitcoin transaction from a flight attendant from Hawaii. It was transferred into actual dollars so there’s a fixed price, he added, and “we can actually pay her the money back if she changes her mind about going to space in a few months.” Seats on the eventual flights currently cost $250,000 each, or about 321 bitcoins. As far as his reasoning goes, Branson is convinced Virgin Galactic is “driving a revolution” and that bitcoin is doing the same when it comes to reinventing society’s idea of currency. This week, a Los Angeles-based online travel agency and a private university in Cyprus became the latest businesses to begin accepting the decentralized digital payments. Bitcoin was trading at $13 in January, but had just topped $600 as the Department of Justice told a Senate committee that it wasn’t illegal. [CNBC]
Categories: Financial News

U.S. Job Openings, Overall Hiring Reach 5-Year Highs

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 9:36am
(WASHINGTON) — U.S. job openings and overall hiring both rose to five-year highs in September, signaling improvement in the job market. The Labor Department says job postings rose 69,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.9 million. That’s the most since March 2008, just a few months after the Great Recession began. Total hiring rose 26,000 to 4.6 million, the highest level since August 2008. The increase suggests employers are not only posting more jobs but are also taking greater steps to fill them. September’s total hiring is still below the roughly 5 million people who are typically hired each month in healthier job markets. The competition for jobs is also easing. There were 2.88 unemployed people, on average, for each available job in September. That’s also the lowest since August 2008.
Categories: Financial News

This Common Holiday Shopping Mistake Will Cost You

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 9:22am
Although this year’s holiday shopping season is a week shorter than usual, you wouldn’t know it from the way stores are moving Black Friday so far forward that some sales will start before the Thanksgiving turkey is even thawed out. The good news is this means you have no excuse to wait until the last minute to buy gifts for the people on your list. Chances are, some you will anyway (ahem, guys — looking at you.) But waiting until the weekend before Christmas to do your shopping doesn’t just mean fighting for a parking spot at the mall and being stuck on a checkout line for ages. According to numerous studies, you’ll spend more. Part of the reason for that appears to be that shoppers buy pricier stuff as December progresses. MasterCard’s monthly SpendingPulse report predicts that with just four days to go before Christmas, jewelry and luxury-goods stores will see their biggest sales. (MORE: This Year, Black Friday Basically Starts a Week Early—If Not Sooner) Although MasterCard predicts that Black Friday will be the biggest day for retailers overall, the last Saturday before Christmas has gotten to be such a big deal in some retail categories that it’s been dubbed “Super Saturday.” Last year, a whopping 8% of the year’s jewelry sales took place on that day, according to MasterCard. It’s most likely guys who are shelling out for all this last-minute bling. According to a new survey from Chase Blueprint and AOL, “Men are much more likely than women to say that they will procrastinate their holiday shopping until the last minute.” While just over a quarter of women are last-mintue shoppers, 44% of men are. Although a 2012 survey conducted by Visa said men and women both procrastinate, it also found that men who go shopping at the last minute planned to spend an average of $181 more than women. (MORE: How to Ruin Thanksgiving, an Hour-by-Hour Guide) It’s likely some of these shoppers think they’re going to score better deals by holding out. MasterCard finds that procrastinators think they’re going
Categories: Financial News

Why Apple Hasn’t Managed to Kill Pandora Yet

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 9:21am
Pandora remains the king of Internet radio for now. The online music service’s position atop the sector has been in question ever since Apple announced it was launching a direct competitor, but Pandora has fended off iTunes Radio fairly effectively since it debuted in September. The company posted record revenues in its most recent quarter of $180.4 million, beating analyst expectations. The net loss of $1.7 million was down from a $2.1 million profit a year ago, but considerably smaller than quarterly losses earlier in 2013. Pandora stock dipped just slightly to $29.11 in after hours trading. It’s still tricky to ascertain exactly what impact iTunes Radio is having on Pandora. Though Apple’s service attracted 11 million unique users in its first five days on the market, its growth slowed afterward, and it attracted just 20 million users total through first month. Still, the service may have taken a small bite out of Pandora’s listenership, which declined for the first time this year in October, from 72.7 million to 70.9 million. However, total listener hours increased from 1.36 billion 1.47 billion in October, showing that Apple’s offering hasn’t yet affected Pandora’s bottom line. (MORE: Here Comes iTunes Radio, Threatening to Shake Up Music Streaming) Perhaps a greater worry than Apple is the fact that Pandora’s user growth is slowing in 2013. From October 2012 to September 2013, Pandora gained 11.7 million new active listeners, a 20 percent increase from 2012. But in the year prior the service gained 18.9 million new active listeners, a 47 percent increase. Total listener hours also dipped for the first time earlier this year, though Pandora quickly addressed the issue by removing the 40-hour monthly limit on mobile use in September. With less runway available in terms of user base growth, the company is trying to monetize its current users more effectively. Mobile revenue, a quickly growing sector, passed $100 million for the first time in the last quarter. The gap between the value of desktop and mobile ads is also decreasing. Right now there
Categories: Financial News

Cruise Industry’s Mysterious ‘Man Overboard’ Problem

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 9:20am
It appears as if the number of cruise ship passengers who jump, fall, or otherwise end up in the ocean is regularly underreported. Perhaps four times as many passengers as official reports would lead the public to believe actually head overboard. A recent report in the Miami Herald calls upon the research of Ross Klein, a sociology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland who over the years has pursued the dark side of the cruising industry as his personal white whale. Klein operates a site called Cruise Junkie, and he has chronicled all sorts of questionable cruise practices—especially concerns about crime and safety. Over the summer, Klein testified before a Senate Commerce Committee, where, among other things, he told officials that crimes on cruise ships were drastically underreported: In practice, there are many crimes that are either not being reported to the FBI or which the FBI chooses not to make available to the American public. Take as just one example the fact that for one 15-month period the FBI reports a single case of sexual assault on Norwegian Cruise Line; however records disclosed in discovery indicate the number was actually 23. (MORE: In the Wake of Ugly Incidents at Sea, the Cruise Industry Is in Hot Water) Soon after the hearings, cruise lines began releasing more information about crimes that have allegedly taken place on their ships. In August, for instance, the Associated Press reported that Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and other cruise lines had voluntarily made crime data public on their websites. “Man overboard” situations are not necessarily crimes, however, and the exact number of such incidents remains something of a mystery. In written testimony over the summer, Klein explained to the Senate committee, “The number of people going overboard from cruise ships is significant: between 20 and 25 a year since 2009.” Yet according to the Miami Herald, when the major North American cruise companies released their data this past summer, there were only seven cases listed under the category of “missing U.S. national” occurring between October 2010
Categories: Financial News

National Restaurant Chains Expand in Alaska

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 8:49am
(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — When the Dairy Queen opened in Anchorage in 2006, it was big news. People stood in a line that stretched for two blocks just to get an ice cream cone, and drive-thru traffic backed up just as long. Residents weren’t just excited about the treats. They were elated that the Dairy Queen was in the city at all. For years, Alaska might as well have been on another planet, so far off the radar of the big national restaurant chains that those in the Lower 48 became used to — and maybe even grown tired of. It was too costly and the logistics too daunting to run a restaurant in the state. Now, restaurants are rushing in. When Olive Garden opened, people stood in line in the bitter winter to get a table. Buffalo Wild Wings is in the city. Next year, Anchorage will get its first Texas Roadhouse, a Hard Rock Cafe and Krispy Kreme doughnut shops. “We are foodies in Anchorage, and we are significant consumers,” said Bill Popp, president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp, adding that one reason for the influx is the relative health of the local economy and people having money to spend. At $72,813, Anchorage has the second-highest median income in the U.S., only lagging behind Honolulu’s median income of $87,934, according to Popp, quoting 2011 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. About half of Alaska’s 730,000 residents live in either Anchorage or the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Another reason for the attraction to Anchorage is that it’s a big draw for tourists as well as those who work at military bases and long for the familiar tastes of home. Hard Rock Cafe, which will open in late spring, chose downtown Anchorage “because it’s a key city in Alaska,” and expects to draw from both locals and tourists, said Scott Brokaw, who is moving from Hard Rock Cafe Universal Los Angeles to be the general manager. National chain restaurants in the city have not always been the case, mainly because of
Categories: Financial News

Dow Jones Closes Above 16,000 for the First Time

Thu, 11/21/2013 - 3:36pm
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 16,000 mark for the first time Thursday amid indications of an improving overall economy. The Dow Jones was up 109.17 points, or 0.69%, to 16009.99 at the end of trading. The S&P and NASDAQ were both also up. Applications for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest in almost two months, the Labor Department said Thursday in a sign that the job market may be improving. [CNBC]
Categories: Financial News

Honda’s Accord Line Wins ‘Green Car’ of Year Award

Thu, 11/21/2013 - 2:16pm
(LOS ANGELES) — Honda’s line of Accords has won the 2014 “Green Car of the Year” award from an auto industry magazine. The announcement came Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. In recent years, Green Car Journal honored cars whose selling points were emerging technologies including natural gas, electric and clean diesel. This year, the prize’s jurors opted to honor an already-popular model that has a gas-electric hybrid version, but also an internal combustion engine that runs on gas. None of the other four finalists was from a U.S. auto maker. Ron Cogan, the magazine’s editor and publisher, said that the Accord’s appeal is that its price — around $30,000 — means it is popular enough so that its good gas mileage helps make a widespread, positive impact on the environment.
Categories: Financial News