Business Highlights


Low oil prices send chills through oil patch

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — Oil has averaged $96 a barrel over the past four years, fueling more drilling, more hiring, and bigger appetites in North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Now oil has hit a rough patch, plunging to $79 from $107 in June on fears of a global glut. Many expect these lower prices will stick around for a while.

Lower oil prices, while good for the broader U.S. economy, are a threat to what has been a surprising and dramatic surge in oil production in the U.S., and to drilling communities that have come to depend on oil money.


Midterm elections carry high stakes for US economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The midterm slugfest for control of the U.S. Senate could have far-reaching effects on the economy.

Tuesday’s elections come just as U.S. growth has been showing consistent improvement, thanks in part to a congressional truce on budget fights. Previous such fights shut down the government and raised the spectre of a default on the federal debt. A repeat of either could quickly damage the economic recovery.

If Democrats retain control of the Senate, the cease-fire may hold, analysts say. But it’s possible it could dissolve with a takeover that gives Republicans control of both chambers.


Skip check-in; latest hotel room key is your phone

NEW YORK (AP) — Hotels don’t want guests to have to linger at the front desk — or even stop by at all.

New programs are helping speed up the check-in process for busy travellers, or in at least one case, letting them go straight to their rooms by using their smartphone to unlock doors.

The innovations are still being tweaked as hotels scramble to catch up to airlines. Fliers today use their phones to check in, select seats and as a boarding pass. Hotels envision a similar relationship, with guests ultimately ordering poolside drinks via an app.


Security contractor breach not detected for months

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cyberattack similar to previous hacker intrusions from China penetrated computer networks for months at USIS, the government’s leading security clearance contractor, before the company noticed, officials and others familiar with an FBI investigation and related official inquiries told The Associated Press.

The breach, first revealed by the company and government agencies in August, compromised the private records of at least 25,000 employees at the Homeland Security Department and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost government contracts.

The government inquiries have prompted concerns about why computer detection alarms inside the company failed to quickly notice the hackers and whether federal agencies that hired the company should have monitored its practices more closely.


Hyundai-Kia to pay US $100M for overstating mpg

WASHINGTON (AP) — Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia will pay the U.S. government a $100 million civil penalty to end a two-year investigation into overstated gas mileage figures on window stickers on 1.2 million vehicles.

The penalty is the first under new rules aimed at limiting the amount of heat-trapping gases cars are allowed to emit. Those regulations are a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s plans to combat global warming and are achieved largely through improving vehicle fuel economy.

The payment could serve as a precedent for other automakers who overstate mileage in violation of the Clean Air Act.


Stock market’s recovery is led by drugmakers

NEW YORK (AP) — Health care companies are leading the market’s rebound from a sharp sell-off two weeks ago, helping push the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index back to record levels.

The industry, which is made up of a range of companies, from global drugmakers like Pfizer to insurers like UnitedHealth, has risen 11.2 per cent since October 15, when the stock market’s recent slump hit bottom. That is a bigger rise than the 8.4 per cent gain for the broader market.

The sector’s surge has been driven by its strong third-quarter earnings.


World Trade Center reopens for business

NEW YORK (AP) — Thirteen years after the 9-11 terrorist attack, the resurrected World Trade Center has opened for business — marking an emotional milestone for both New Yorkers and the nation.

Some staffers of publishing giant Conde Nast began working at 1 World Trade Center on Monday. The 104-story, $3.9 billion skyscraper dominates the Manhattan skyline. The publishing giant becomes the first commercial tenant in America’s tallest building.

It’s the centerpiece of the 16-acre site where the decimated twin towers once stood and where more than 2,700 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, buried under smoking mounds of fiery debris.


Red Lobster goes back into its shell

NEW YORK (AP) — Red Lobster is revamping its menu to remove dishes including Spicy Tortilla Soup and a Wood-Grilled Pork Chop, while tacking on more dishes featuring lobster.

The non-seafood dishes had been added by the chain’s previous owner, Darden Restaurants Inc., in hopes of attracting people who don’t like seafood as sales declined.

But the new management thinks that was a mistake. The revamped menu is 85 per cent seafood, up from 75 per cent.


Stryker to pay $1.43B to settle hip implant cases

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Medical implant maker Stryker will pay at least $1.43 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits from patients who had to have surgery to remove problematic hip implants.

The settlement agreement, brokered by a New Jersey Superior Court judge, resolves state and federal lawsuits against the maker of orthopedics. Stryker said Monday the $1.43 billion figure represents the “low end of the range of probable loss to resolve these matters.”

The lawsuits stem from two hip implants that Stryker recalled due to corrosion and other problems in 2012. One year ago Johnson & Johnson paid $2.5 billion to settle 8,000 lawsuits from patients who had to have the company’s metal ball-and-socket hip implant removed or replaced.


Pace of US factory activity picks up in October

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories were busier in October. Orders, productivity and hiring all grew faster than they did in September, according to a private survey.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, reported Monday that its manufacturing index rose to 59 last month from 56.6 in September. Any reading above 50 signals expansion. The increase reverses a drop in September.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 24.28 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 17,366.24. The S&P 500 dropped 0.24 point, or 0.01 per cent, to 2,017.81. The Nasdaq composite rose 8.17 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,638.91.

Benchmark U.S. oil dropped $1.76 to close at $78.78 a barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, slipped $1.08 to $84.78. Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $2.118 a gallon. Heating oil slipped 2.1 cents to $2.49 a gallon. Natural gas surged 17.3 cents to $4.046 per 1,000 cubic feet.