Thursday, October 31, 2013 6:17 pm
By The Associated Press
No October jinx this time for the stock market
NEW YORK (AP) - October often makes investors nervous, since that's when some of the biggest crashes in stock market history happened. But this October, the market seemed unstoppable.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at a record high seven times and ended the month up 4.5 percent. The market climbed even after October began with the 16-day government shutdown and the threat of a potentially calamitous U.S. default.
After being rattled by a series of down-to-the-wire budget battles in recent years, investors have become inured to the ways of Washington lawmakers. Instead of selling stocks, they kept their focus on what they say really matters: the Federal Reserve.
FAA eases rules on electronic devices on planes
WASHINGTON (AP) - Airline passengers won't have to "turn off all electronic devices" anymore - they'll be able to read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music from gate to gate under new guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration. But they still can't talk on their cellphones through the flight.
Don't expect the changes to happen immediately, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Thursday at a news conference announcing new rules. How fast will vary by airline.
Delta and JetBlue said they would quickly submit plans to implement the new policy. Airlines will have to show the FAA that their airplanes meet the new guidelines and that they've updated their flight-crew training manuals, safety announcements and rules for stowing devices to reflect the new guidelines.
Food stamp cuts kick in as Congress debates more
WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps will see their benefits go down starting Friday, just as Congress has begun negotiations on further cuts to the program.
Beginning in November, a temporary benefit from the 2009 economic stimulus that boosts food stamp dollars will no longer be available. According to the Agriculture Department, that means a family of four receiving food stamps will start receiving $36 less a month.
The benefits, which go to 1 in 7 Americans, fluctuate based on factors that include food prices, inflation and income. The rolls have swelled as the economy has struggled in recent years, with the stimulus providing higher benefits and many people signing up for the first time.
Dell laptop buyers make a stink over cat smell
NEW YORK (AP) - A noxious feline odor has some Dell customers caterwauling.
People who own Dell Latitude 6430u laptops are complaining that their pricey new computers are emitting a smell similar to cat urine. Some of them said on the company's online customer forums that the odor seems to be coming from the keyboard or palm rest.
The Round Rock, Texas, company originally advised buyers through its forums to try cleaning their keyboards with a soft cloth or compressed air, but the smell persisted. Dell said Thursday that its investigation revealed that the strange scent is related to a manufacturing process, which the company has since fixed.
Reversal of fortune for Brazil's flamboyant tycoon
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Just a year ago he was labeled the "pride of Brazil" by no less than the nation's president, a wildcat entrepreneur playboy, the Brazilian Donald Trump who embodied his country's rise. Eike Batista rode atop a wave of endless optimism, driven by repeated reports that his oil company had struck black gold once again.
On Thursday, he was sifting through the ashes after becoming the head of the biggest Brazilian firm to seek bankruptcy protection, the share price of his OGX oil company worth less than a stick of gum. Some feared it could have a domino effect on his other concerns in the mining, infrastructure and real estate sectors.
The fall was fast and sharp for Batista, 56, who just a few years ago vowed to become the globe's richest man, but whose fortune is now reported to be less than 1 percent of the $34.5 billion he was worth at his apex last year, when he was at No. 7 on the Forbes billionaires list.
FDA enlists companies to head off drug shortages
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Food and Drug Administration announced a new proposal Thursday to try and head off more shortages of crucial medications that have disrupted care at hospitals and clinics nationwide.
Under the proposed rule, companies that make medically important prescription medicines would have to notify the FDA six months ahead of any changes that could disrupt the U.S. supply. That includes plans to discontinue a product or manufacturing changes that could slow production.
FDA leaders say advance warnings help the agency work with companies to resolve supply problems or find alternate producers for drugs that are being phased out. The FDA credits earlier warnings from companies with reducing the number of drug shortages from 251 in 2011 to 117 last year.
Kraft to remove artificial dyes from 3 products
NEW YORK (AP) - Kraft says it plans to remove artificial dyes from three macaroni and cheese varieties that come in kid-friendly shapes, a move that comes as people increasingly reach for foods they feel are natural.
The change doesn't affect Kraft's plain elbow-shaped macaroni and cheese with "original flavor."
The packaged-food company, which also makes Oscar Mayer and Jell-O, said the revamped recipes aren't a response to a petition on Change.org that asked it to remove artificial dyes from its famous macaroni and cheese kits. That petition, which was posted in March, had more than 348,000 signatures on Thursday.
Exxon Mobil's 3Q profit falls 18 percent
DALLAS (AP) - Exxon Mobil Corp. earned nearly $8 billion in the third quarter, but that was down 18 percent as the company made a lot less money refining oil into fuel.
Although Exxon increased oil and gas production slightly, it wasn't enough to offset weakness in refining, which also hurt results at other major oil companies.
Refining margins have collapsed this year. An easing of transportation bottlenecks has boosted the price of some North American crude oil. Meanwhile, gasoline prices have fallen because of ample supply and moderate demand.
Bud brewer AB Inbev's 3Q profits rise 31 percent
AMSTERDAM (AP) - Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, says its third-quarter profits rose as the takeover of new brands and higher selling prices offset the impact of lower sales volumes.
The company, based in Leuven, Belgium, said Thursday that net profit was up 31 percent to $2.37 billion (1.73 billion euros), from $1.81 billion in the same period a year earlier. The gain largely reflects the company's $20 billion purchase in June of the 50 percent of Mexico's Grupo Modelo it didn't already own.
Revenues rose 14 percent to $11.6 billion due to the takeover, currency effects and growth.
MasterCard 3Q profit up 14 percent on higher card use
NEW YORK (AP) - MasterCard said its third-quarter profit rose 14 percent as it got a boost from overseas growth and processed more payments.
The payments network, based in Purchase, N.Y., on Thursday said its net income rose to $879 million, or $7.27 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compared with $772 million, or $6.17 per share, last year.
Revenue rose 16 percent to $2.22 billion, from $1.92 billion in the 2012 third quarter.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 73.01 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,545.75. The Nasdaq composite fell 10.91 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,919.71. The S&P 500 slipped 6.77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,756.54.
Benchmark U.S. crude for December delivery fell 39 cents to close $96.38 a barrel at on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international crude also used by U.S. refineries, fell $1.02 to $108.84 on the ICE exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $2.63 a gallon. Heating oil shed 1 cent to $2.97 a gallon. Natural gas lost 4 cents to $3.58 per 1,000 cubic feet.