Business Highlights


Hollywood dipping toes into virtual reality worlds

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Virtual reality is creeping into our world.

Once seen as a tool for alien-blasting gamers, movie studios, television producers and artists are now adopting the technology, which immerses people in faraway realms using bulky goggles, house-sized domes, and smartphones.

Entering a virtual world means that users who look left, right, up or behind experience an alternate environment, even when they’re sitting in a theatre or on a couch.

It means a horror movie can be promoted with a haunted house tour featuring a mass murderer who can spring from anywhere. Or a shark documentary enhanced by the sensation that you’re being circled by predators.


Airlines try to save time with speedier boarding process

DALLAS (AP) — Airlines are trying to save time by speeding up a part of flying that creates delays even before the plane leaves the gate: the boarding process.

This summer travel season, Delta plans to preload carry-on bags above passengers’ seats on some flights. Southwest wants to get families seated together more quickly.

Airlines have tinkered with different boarding systems almost since the days of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who tossed a coin to decide who would fly first aboard their biplane. Plenty of people have offered ideas for improvement, but no perfect method has ever emerged.


Intel buys into chips powering cloud computing, smarter cars

NEW YORK (AP) — Intel is buying chip designer Altera for about $16.7 billion in cash to expand its reach into new chip markets that are powering the wireless revolution, smarter cars and more.

The deal is the biggest in Intel Corp.’s 47-year history. It is the latest in an industry that is looking to acquisitions to boost lacklustre sales and cut costs. Sales are falling for personal computers because people are increasingly turning to smartphones and tablets.


Pool industry touts water savings in California drought

ORANGE, Calif. (AP) — Leigh McDonough stood in her backyard on a hot spring day and listened to the steady shush-shush-shush of two garden hoses filling her new pool and hot tub with water. Her family installed the 21,000-gallon pool despite a state mandate to cut overall water consumption by 25 per cent amid a crushing, four-year drought.

McDonough, however, wasn’t worried: She was told her pool would actually help save water that would otherwise go to her lawn.

It’s a mantra being pushed by the California pool and spa industry in recent months, as water conservation campaigns have placed residential pools and other conspicuous water users in the crosshairs.


US consumer spending flat in April as income, savings rise

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers held back from spending more in April, deciding instead to channel income gains into savings.

Consumer spending was flat in April — the weakest performance in three months — after a revised 0.5 per cent increase in March, the Commerce Department reported Monday. The March advance had been the biggest gain since last August. Personal income rose a healthy 0.4 per cent.


US manufacturing growth accelerates for 1st time in 6 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing growth accelerated in May for the first time in six months, propelled by more new orders and an increase in hiring.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Monday that its manufacturing index rose to 52.8 last month, from 51.5 in April. That’s the highest reading since February. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.


US construction jumped 2.2 per cent in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending climbed in April to the highest level in more than six years, fueled by healthy gains in housing, government spending and non-residential construction.

Construction spending advanced 2.2 per cent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1 trillion, the highest level since November 2008, the Commerce Department said Monday. Spending had risen a more modest 0.5 per cent in March.


Many health insurers go big with initial 2016 rate requests

Dozens of health insurers want price hikes well beyond 10 per cent for their individual coverage next year, as some juggle higher-than-expected costs and rising prescription drug expenses.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is seeking a roughly 26 per cent premium increase, while plans in Illinois and Florida, among other states, are asking for hikes of 20 per cent or more, according to preliminary rate information released Monday on the federal government’s website.


NetJets names new CEO in midst of labour dispute with pilots

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets unit named new leaders Monday in the midst of an ongoing contract dispute with its pilots union.

NetJets, which sells partial ownership interests in business jets, said Jordan Hansell is stepping down as chairman and CEO.

A group of NetJets pilots protested outside Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in May because they object to the concessions NetJets has been seeking since 2013 in contract talks


KFC sues Chinese companies for online rumours about its food

BEIJING (AP) — Restaurant operator KFC said Monday it filed a lawsuit against three companies in China whose social media accounts spread false claims about its food, including that its chickens have eight legs.

The case filed by China’s biggest restaurant operator comes as the government intensifies a campaign to clean up rumours on social media. Internet marketers have been convicted of trying to manipulate online sentiment on behalf of clients by posting false information about competitors or deleting critical posts.


Malaysia Air CEO says carrier could break even by 2018

The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines said the ailing carrier could break even by 2018 after cutting staff, selling surplus aircraft and refurbishing its international fleet.

Christoph Mueller said Monday that the airline is trying to sell two of its A380 super jumbo jets and has gone ahead with its previously announced plan to cut 6,000 of its 20,000 staff.

The remaining 14,000 employees have been offered jobs in a new company that is being set up to take over the legacy Malaysia Airlines business.


High court: Bankrupt homeowners can’t void second mortgage

WASHINGTON (AP) — A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that homeowners who declare bankruptcy can’t void a second mortgage even if the home isn’t worth what they owe on the primary mortgage.

The justices ruled in two Florida cases that bankrupt homeowners can’t “strip off” a second loan even if they are underwater on the first loan.

Both cases involved property owners who were allowed by lower courts to nullify second loans held by Bank of America. The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed both cases, but Bank of America said the rulings conflicted with Supreme Court precedent.


Google tries to demystify privacy controls with new approach

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is making its privacy controls easier to find and understand in an attempt to make the more than 1 billion users of its digital services more comfortable about the personal information that they give the Internet’s most powerful company.

The simpler approach debuting Monday features a redesigned “My Account” hub where all of Google’s key privacy controls can be found. Accountholders can also undergo a check-up that will break down which of the company’s various services are gathering information about them. A new site at will also address a variety of issues in a question-and-answer format.


Disney CEO succession path cleared as CFO Jay Rasulo resigns

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. said Monday that its chief financial officer, Jay Rasulo, will resign at the end of June, clearing the path for another top executive, Tom Staggs, to succeed Bob Iger as eventual CEO.

A new chief financial officer was not immediately named Monday, but Rasulo, 59, will serve as an adviser to assist in the transition.

Barton Crockett, a media company analyst with FBR Capital Markets & Co., said the move is clearly related to succession planning, something Disney has managed poorly in the past, especially with the resignation of Michael Eisner in 2005 following a shareholder revolt.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 29.69 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 18,040.37. The S&P 500 index added 4.34 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,111.73. The Nasdaq composite climbed 12.9 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5,082.93.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 10 cents to close at $60.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, fell 68 cents to close at $64.88 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.1 cents to close at $2.042 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2.4 cents to close at $1.926 a gallon. Natural gas rose 7 cents to close at $2.649 per 1,000 cubic feet.