Business Highlights

NEW YORK, N.Y. – ___

Tiny Cokes: Less guilt means more money for makers

With people drinking less soda amid health concerns, Coke and Pepsi are pushing smaller cans and bottles that contain fewer calories and, they say, induce less guilt. That all comes at a price: Those cute little cans can cost more than twice as much per ounce.

The shift means 7.5-ounce “mini-cans” and 8-ounce and 8.5-ounce glass and aluminum bottles are taking up more space on supermarket shelves.

The cans and bottles have been around for a few years, but Coke and Pepsi are making them more widely available and marketing them more aggressively.


Government predicts shale slowdown as oil falls

As oil’s long slide continued, the Energy Department forecast Tuesday that production from U.S. shale operators will begin to tail off in the second half of the year.

The decline would mark the first such drop in what has been a 6-year boom in U.S. onshore crude production.

The price of oil dipped briefly under $45 before ending down 18 cents to $45.89 a barrel. It’s down 58 per cent over the past six months.


Prospect of Chinese cars in US still remain years away

DETROIT (AP) — Another Chinese automaker is showing vehicles this year at the auto show in Detroit, raising the perennial question about when these companies might sell in the United States.

The answer: Years from now, according to carmakers and industry observers alike.

Chinese manufacturers have announced plans over the past decade to export to the U.S. only to postpone them when faced with passing U.S. safety and emissions tests and building a dealer network. They also must overcome big hurdles in convincing U.S. car buyers that Chinese cars have the quality they demand. Still, Chinese companies remain interested in eventually selling in the prestigious — and potentially profitable — market.


Help wanted: US job openings at 14-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The rapid hiring that made 2014 a stellar year for job gains is showing no sign of slowing down.

U.S. employers advertised the most job openings in nearly 14 years in November, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That suggests businesses are determined to keep adding staff because they are confident strong economic growth will create more demand for their goods and services.

Job openings rose 2.9 per cent to 4.97 million in November, the most since January 2001. More job vacancies generally lead to more hiring. Employers have been slow to fill their openings for most of the recovery, but that started to change last year as companies ramped up their overall hiring.


MetLife challenging US regulators’ high-risk label

In the first legal challenge to a U.S. body that arose from the financial crisis, MetLife is challenging its designation by regulators as a potential threat to the financial system.

MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. insurance company by assets, announced Tuesday that it is taking the government to court to appeal its assessment by the Financial Stability Oversight Council as “systemically important.”

That means regulators believe MetLife is so big and entwined with the financial system that it could threaten the economy if it collapsed.

The designation brings stricter government oversight and, MetLife says, exorbitant costs.


Amazon signs Woody Allen to create his first TV series

Amazon Studios is delivering Woody Allen as creator of his first-ever TV series.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker will write and direct all of the episodes of the half-hour series. A full season has been ordered for Amazon’s Prime Instant Video, the company announced Tuesday. The series is expected to premiere in 2016.

No details on casting were disclosed, nor was the series title announced.

Allen’s signing adds yet more lustre to Amazon Studios. Its freshman series, “Transparent,” on Sunday won two Golden Globes, including best comedy series, as it continues to help redefine what “television” means.


World Bank cuts 2015 forecast for global economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Bank, citing stagnation in Europe and Japan and a slowdown in China, downgraded its forecast for the global economy this year. It also reported that world economic growth came in below expectations in 2014.

The bank predicts the world economy will expand 3 per cent this year, up from 2.6 per cent in 2014.

Last June, World Bank economists had forecast 3.4 per cent global economic growth this year and 2.8 per cent last year.


AirTran leads US airlines in on-time arrivals; Envoy last

AirTran Airways tops all U.S. airlines in the latest rankings for on-time arrivals, knocking off perennial winner Hawaiian Airlines.

But you can’t fly on AirTran anymore. The low-fare carrier flew its last revenue flight in December. It has been folded into Southwest Airlines, which bought AirTran in 2011.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday that 80.6 per cent of domestic flights on the 14 biggest airlines arrived within 14 minutes of schedule in November. That was better than October’s 80.0 per cent on-time rate, but down from 83.5 per cent in November 2013.


Quiet year in terms of tax changes, but ACA provides twist

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s signature health care law will bring a new twist to tax-filing in 2015.

But it’s a year in which much else will seem familiar when you’re working on your return.

Sure, there have been adjustments for inflation in the tax tables, standard deduction and value of each exemption. But what could have been a stunner — the expiration of a series of popular tax breaks — was forestalled by Congress in a last-minute move before it adjourned last month.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 27.16 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 17,613.68. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index eased 5.23 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,023.03. The Nasdaq composite slipped 3.21 points, or less than 0.1 per cent, to 4,661.50.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 18 cents to close at $45.89 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 84 cents to close at $46.59 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cent to close at $1.269 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2.1 cents to close at $1.633 a gallon. Natural gas rose 14.8 cents to close at $2.943 per 1,000 cubic feet.