Business Highlights


Feds want cars to be able to talk to each other

WASHINGTON (AP) — Your car might see a deadly crash coming even if you don’t, the government says, indicating it will require automakers to equip new vehicles with technology that lets cars warn each other if they’re plunging toward peril.

The action, still some years off, has “game-changing potential” to cut collisions, deaths and injuries, federal transportation officials said at a news conference Monday.

A radio signal would continually transmit a vehicle’s position, heading, speed and other information. Cars and light trucks would receive the same information back from other cars, and a vehicle’s computer would alert its driver to an impending collision. Alerts could be a flashing message, an audible warning, or a driver’s seat that rumbles. Some systems might even automatically brake to avoid an accident.


Internet firms release data on NSA spy requests

Freed by a recent legal deal with government lawyers, major technology firms released new data Monday on how often they are ordered to turn over customer information for secret national security investigations — figures that show that the government collected data on thousands of Americans.

The details disclosed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr provided expanded details from 2012 and 2013 showing how often the government has sought information on the firms’ customers in counter-terrorism and other intelligence-related probes.

Seeking to reassure customers and business partners alarmed by revelations about the government’s massive collection of Internet and computer data, the firms stressed details indicating that only small numbers of their customers were targeted by authorities.


Sign of the times: Super Bowl ads safer and staid

NEW YORK (AP) — As Super Bowl ads go, so goes America.

The A-list advertisers who aired commercial spots during Sunday’s big game steered clear of controversy while trying to appeal to weary consumers with iconic American images and family-centred topics. Those safe themes were evident in many of the ads, from Toyota’s Highlander ad featuring singing Muppets to Chrysler’s two-minute Bob Dylan spot focused on American engineering, and Bud Light’s ad which showed Arnold Schwarzenegger playing “tiny tennis.”

Super Bowl ads can be a bellwether for the economy because they show which companies are willing to spend $4 million on a 30-second spot. This year, fewer websites and software companies aired ads compared to the past four years and more ads appeared from packaged food and luxury auto makers. Advertisers used nostalgia and family-heavy themes to play to viewers who are fatigued from a depressed economy and tepid job market.


Emerging markets’ turmoil likely to stay contained

WASHINGTON (AP) — From Turkey to South Africa to Argentina, emerging markets are being slammed by rising inflation, economic mismanagement and political turmoil.

Overhanging it all is a nerve-jangling unknown: Whether developing countries as a group can withstand the end of the extraordinary easy-money policies that central banks have offered up for five years.

The short answer: A tentative yes.

Many economists say they’re optimistic that the troubles in emerging markets won’t infect the global economy as a whole. They note that the biggest threats in the developing world are confined to modest-size economies — South Africa, Turkey, Argentina — that seem unlikely to do much damage beyond their borders.


NYC, Calif. bills show fight to protect caregivers

NEW YORK (AP) — If you don’t get a job because you’re a woman, or you get fired because you’re black, or you get transferred to the night shift because you’re gay, there’s a law for that. But if you’re punished at work because you need time to take your child to the doctor or talk to your confused elderly mother, you might be out of luck.

In most places around the country, there’s no specific safeguard against employment discrimination based on a worker’s status as a caregiver. Connecticut and the District of Columbia are exceptions. Legislation that would change that is pending in New York City and California, but business interests have objected.

Proponents say various demographic trends have fed the problem and created the need for new laws: more single-parent households, more households with both parents working and more elderly people who need family care.


Funeral and casket outlets are heading to the mall

LOS ANGELES (AP) — We eat there, buy our clothes there and some people suspect teenagers may actually live there. So perhaps it was just a matter of time until funeral homes began moving into the local shopping mall.

Over the past two years, Forest Lawn has been quietly putting movable kiosks in several of the malls that dot Southern California’s suburbs.

The move, by one of the funeral industry’s best known operators, expands on a marketing innovation that appears to have begun at the dawn of the decade when a company called Til We Meet Again began opening casket stores around the country.


US vehicle recalls hit 21.9 million in 2013, a 9-year high

DETROIT (AP) — Automakers recalled 21.9 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, a nine-year high.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says automakers initiated 632 separate vehicle recalls in 2013, up 9 per cent from the prior year.

Companies are saving money by using more common parts. But that can force them to recall many more vehicles when something goes wrong.

Chrysler Group initiated the most recalls, with 36. After Chrysler, General Motors had the most recalls, with 23. Mazda had the fewest, with two.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 326.05 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 15,372.80. The slump follows the Dow’s worst January performance since 2009.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 40.70 points, or 2.3 per cent, to close at 1,741.89. The Nasdaq composite fell 106.92 points, or 2.6 per cent, to 3,996.96.

Benchmark oil for March delivery dropped $1.06 to close at $96.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 36 cents to $106.04 on the ICE exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline was down 2 cents at $2.61 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.01 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents to $4.91 per 1,000 cubic feet.