- - Tuesday, March 22, 2011

@-Text.normal:OIL

Price tops $105 per barrel

NEW YORK | Oil prices pushed above $105 per barrel Tuesday, as traders focused on a series of international crises that could tighten global supplies at a time when consumption is expected to increase.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery rose $1.88 to settle at $104.97 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. At one point it was as high as $105.18. In London, Brent crude gained 73 cents to settle at $115.64 per barrel.

Energy economists continued to gauge how recent unrest in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria will affect exports from a region that produces 27 percent of the world’s oil.

TECHNOLOGY

App store opens for Android phones, tablets

SAN FRANCISCO | Amazon.com Inc. is getting into the app-selling arena by opening an online store to distribute software for smartphones and tablet computers running Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

The Amazon Appstore, which was unveiled Tuesday, includes free and paid apps from Android software developers.

The online retailer decided to focus on the market for Android apps because of its rapid growth, said Aaron Rubenson, who is in charge of the Appstore’s business operations. Since 2008, a slew of Android-running phones and tablets running Android have been released, and Google’s own Android Market app store, which is available on these devices and online, now offers more than 150,000 apps.

AIRLINES

Delta cuts global flying plans again

NEW YORK | Delta Air Lines won’t fly as much as originally planned in the second half of this year because of the crisis in Japan and rising fuel costs.

Delta has suspended flights to Tokyo and is less flying in the U.S. and across the Atlantic. The nation’s No. 2 airline said Tuesday that 2011 profit will be reduced by $250 million to $400 million because of a sharp drop in demand for flights to Tokyo.

Delta posted a profit of $593 million last year, its first since 2007. Analysts polled by FactSet expect the airline to nearly triple that this year to about $1.58 billion.

For Delta, as well as American, United and Continental, the disruption to Japan service comes as high fuel costs have forced them to raise ticket prices and rein in spending. The airlines have implemented eight across-the-board fare increases so far this year; Delta led four of those. Fuel costs have tracked a 38 percent increase in the price of oil since Labor Day.

FDA

Michigan firm barred from selling heart machines

The federal government is barring a Michigan company from selling life-sustaining devices used in heart surgery after years of quality control problems at company facilities.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it signed a permanent injunction with Terumo Cardiovascular Systems and two executives that bars them from making or distributing heart-lung bypass systems and similar machines. The devices are used to circulate blood during chest surgery.

Terumo agreed to pay $35 million in back profits from the sale of its devices and additional fines if it doesn’t comply with the government’s terms.

NEW YORK

LightSquared strikes deal with phone company

NEW YORK | LightSquared, a company building a new wireless broadband network to compete with those of AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Clearwire, announced Tuesday its first phone-company customer, Leap Wireless International Inc.

Leap Wireless, the parent of the Cricket phone service, plans to use LightSquared’s fourth-generation, or 4G, network to supplement its own.

LightSquared is funded by private-equity firm Harbinger Capital Partners, and it plans to sell wholesale network access to phone companies and any other companies that might want to resell broadband Internet access. It has announced one other customer: Open Range, a startup Internet service provider focusing on rural areas.

San Diego-based Leap is the country’s seventh-largest phone company, with 5.5 million customers. Analysts have speculated that T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest phone company, would be interested in dealing with LightSquared, but that possibility has been taken off the table with Sunday’s announcement that AT&T has agreed to buy T-Mobile.

From wire dispatches and staff reports