Saturday April 20, 2013

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Boston travel: Trains, buses halted, planes flying

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mass transportation to and from the Boston area was virtually shut down Friday as police conducted a massive manhunt for a suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing.

The message from Boston transit authorities -- shared early in the morning via Twitter -- was clear: "Go/stay home."

As the manhunt stretched into the afternoon, Amtrak stopped all trains on the heavily traveled corridor between New York and Boston. Its service from Boston to Maine was also halted. All major intercity bus lines suspended service to the area. Authorities also stopped service on commuter trains into Boston as well as the city’s subway -- called the T -- and the city’s buses.

Only air travel functioned normally. Planes took off and landed mostly on schedule at Logan International, although passengers entering the airport drew extra scrutiny from state police.

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FAA approves resumption of Boeing 787 flights

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials intend to lift the order grounding the beleaguered 787 Dreamliner after accepting Boeing’s revamped battery system even though the root cause of battery failures that led to a fire on one plane and smoke on another remains unknown.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it would send airlines instructions and publish a notice next week lifting the 3-month-old grounding order that day.


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Boeing will then have the go-ahead to begin retrofitting planes with an enhanced lithium ion battery system.

Dreamliner flights could resume within a week, the agency told members of Congress. Boeing said it has stationed teams around the world to begin installing the fix.

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Poll: Public pessimism on economy is increasing

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For the third year in a row, the nation’s economic recovery has hit a springtime soft spot. Reflecting that weakness, only 1 in 4 Americans now expects his or her own financial situation to improve over the next year, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

The sour mood is undermining support for President Barack Obama’s economic stewardship and for government in general.

The poll shows that just 46 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy while 52 percent disapprove. That’s a negative turn from an even split last September -- ahead of Obama’s November re-election victory -- when 49 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

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GE 1Q earnings rise on NBC sale; Europe drags

NEW YORK (AP) -- General Electric’s first quarter results were dragged down by deteriorating economic conditions in Europe, highlighting the danger that the region’s struggles still pose to the global economy.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt said he expected results in Europe to be bad in the quarter -- and they were worse. Revenue from the region fell 17 percent compared with last year.

While GE’s results were roughly what analysts expected and Immelt said the company remained on track to meet its financial goals for the year, his gloomy comments about Europe and the weak performance of the company’s core industrial operations sent GE shares tumbling.

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McDonald’s fails to boost sales with Dollar Menu

NEW YORK (AP) -- McDonald’s managed to eke out a higher profit for its first quarter even as the world’s biggest hamburger chain failed to lift sales with its Dollar Menu.

The company said Friday that an important sales measurement fell 1 percent during the period and warned that it’s expected to dip again in April.

That marked the first quarterly decline in a decade in sales at restaurants open at least 13 months and underscored the troubles the company has been facing.

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SeaWorld makes a splash on NYSE as stock gains

NEW YORK (AP) -- SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. made a splash Friday in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The owner of theme parks famous for water shows featuring killer whales and dolphins jumped $6.52, or 24 percent, to close at $33.52 after the company and its backers raised $702 million.

The initial public offering of 26 million shares was priced at $27 per share, which was at the high end of the expected range of $24 to $27 per share. The IPO’s size also increased from the 20 million shares that SeaWorld and its owner, private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, had hoped to sell. The pricing of the offering and boost to its size suggests that there was solid demand for the shares.

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Unemployment rates fell in 26 U.S. states in March

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates fell in more than half the U.S. states in March even though job growth slowed. Rates fell largely because many of those out of work stopped looking for jobs and were no longer counted as unemployed.

Unemployment rates fell in 26 states, rose in seven and were unchanged in 17.

Only 23 states reported a net gain in hiring in March, the fewest since August 2011. Employers cut jobs in 26 states, and New Mexico reported little change. That was much worse than in February, when 42 states reported job gains.

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G-20 countries pledge stronger efforts

WASHINGTON (AP) -- World finance leaders are pledging to pursue further actions to bolster a disappointingly weak global recovery. They also reaffirmed their commitment to avoid using their currencies as an economic weapon to gain unfair advantage in foreign trade.

Finance ministers and central bank presidents from the leading rich and developing nations, or Group of 20, wrapped up two days of talks Friday with a joint statement that said they had managed to avoid some of the biggest economic threats, but growth was still too weak in many countries and unemployment too high.

The joint statement revealed no major new policy initiatives but did urge the United States and some other countries to emphasize efforts to jump-start growth even if that meant less emphasis on deficit reduction in the near term.

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Suitors back away from Dell bids amid PC slump

Buyout specialist Blackstone Group LP is dropping its effort to acquire Dell, and billionaire investor Carl Icahn is reportedly unlikely to follow through on his preliminary acquisition offer, as suitors digest studies showing a staggering decline in PC sales.

The Wall Street Journal said Icahn will now likely wait to see if shareholders approve a February deal for the company to be taken private by a group that includes founder and CEO Michael Dell for $24.4 billion. The newspaper, citing an unnamed person familiar with Icahn’s thinking, said that if the deal is rejected, Icahn may pursue a hostile takeover.

The news came after the company said in a securities filing Friday that Blackstone was withdrawing from the bidding process.

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Beer makers and DOJ reach deal

Anheuser-Busch InBev has reached a final agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that could settle a dispute over its $20.1 billion acquisition of the Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo.

The world’s largest brewer has been trying since June to buy the half of Grupo Modelo that it doesn’t already own. The Justice Department sued to block the deal out of concern that a company that massive would stifle competition in the U.S.

The companies involved in a complicated series of deals surrounding the acquisition have negotiated for months with Justice officials to try and clear the way. They submitted an agreement Friday to the court and if approved, it is expected to close in June.