- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015


Volkswagen rocked by US emissions scandal as stock slides 17 percent

BERLIN (AP) - Volkswagen, the world’s top-selling automaker, lost a stunning 17.1 percent of its value Monday after admitting that it intentionally rigged nearly half a million cars to defeat U.S. smog tests.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, announced it is expanding its investigation of what it’s calling “defeat devices” in diesel vehicles, to make sure other manufacturers aren’t using similar schemes to thwart federal Clean Air laws.

Volkswagen has now admitted that it intentionally installed software programmed to switch engines to a cleaner mode during official emissions testing. The software then switches off again, enabling cars to drive more powerfully on the road while emitting as much as 40 times the legal pollution limit.


As turbulence shakes markets, experts suggest sitting tight

NEW YORK (AP) - Whenever disaster strikes people run for safety. They race outside when a house catches fire and head to the basement when a tornado tears through town.

And when the stock market takes a sudden fall, they sell stocks and hide the money in cash.

That’s the move plenty of people have made since markets went wild this summer, and the ongoing turbulence has tested average investors’ ability to stick with their financial plans. It’s a natural response to flee in the face of danger, except that when it comes to investing, it’s usually the wrong one.


US home sales slide in August after 3 months of solid gains

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. home sales slid in August by the most since January as tight supplies and rising prices discouraged potential buyers.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of existing homes fell 4.8 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.31 million, the lowest level since April. That’s down from 5.58 million in July, which was the highest in more than eight years.

Solid job growth and low mortgage rates have boosted sales 6.2 percent in the past year. But the median home price has increased 4.7 percent during that time, more than double the increase in average hourly pay. That is likely pushing more homes out of reach for many buyers.


Macy’s plans to add 85,000 seasonal holiday hiring workers

NEW YORK (AP) - Macy’s Inc. plans to hire about 85,000 seasonal workers for temporary jobs ahead of the holidays to meet expected higher demand. That is about the same as a year ago.

The announcement comes as other retailers announce their hiring plans ahead of the holiday season. Many companies boost their workforces temporarily to meet increased demand. The pace of hiring at a retailer can serve as an indicator of expectations for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for 20 percent of the industry’s annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

The positions will be filled at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores, call centers, distribution centers and online fulfillment centers nationwide.


Declining smartphone maker HTC booted from blue chip index

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan’s stock exchange has removed smartphone maker HTC from its index of blue chip companies, signposting the dramatic decline of a business that once ranked as Taiwan’s No. 1 brand and dazzled consumers with some of the world’s first Android handsets.

The exchange removed HTC from its FTSE TWSE Taiwan 50 index on Monday after the company’s market value declined below the level required for inclusion in the market benchmark. The index lists Taiwan’s 50 biggest companies which together represent 70 percent of the market’s value.

It’s a humbling comedown for a company that once sold more than 1 in 10 of phones worldwide, received plaudits for innovation and represented Taiwan’s ambitions to spawn its own globally recognized electronics brands.


Digital song downloads slipped further in first half of year

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Digital downloads of songs continued to fall out of favor with Americans in the first half of the year, while free and paid music-streaming revenue kept growing, even without much of a bump from the launch of Apple Music.

That’s according to mid-year sales figures released by the Recording Industry Association of America on Monday. They show overall music industry revenue fell a half percentage point to $3.2 billion.

Revenue from paid subscriptions to services like Spotify and Rhapsody grew 25 percent to $478 million, while revenue from free services like Pandora grew 22 percent to $550 million. Streaming revenue as a whole surpassed $1 billion in the first half of the year for the first time.


Hispanic business growth outstrips rest of US

NEW YORK (AP) - The growth in Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. is outstripping that of companies in general, according to a study released Monday.

Between 2012 and 2015, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses has grown at an annual rate of 7.5 percent, 15 times faster than the 0.5 percent growth rate for all companies, according to the study by the consulting firm Geoscape and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

There are an estimated 4.07 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the country, up 57 percent since 2007, the study said.


Apple withdraws some China apps after malware found

BEIJING (AP) - Apple Inc. has removed some applications from its App Store after developers in China were tricked into using software tools that added malicious code in an unusual security breach.

Apple gave no details of which companies were affected. But Tencent Ltd. said its popular WeChat app was affected and the company released a new version after spotting the malicious code. Chinese news reports said others affected included banks, an airline and a popular music service.

The malicious code spread through a counterfeit version of Apple’s Xcode tools used to create apps for its iPhones and iPads, according to the company. It said the counterfeit tools spread when developers obtained them from “untrusted sources” rather than directly from the company.


Subaru plans $140 million expansion of Indiana factory

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Subaru announced Monday it plans to spend $140 million to boost vehicle production at an Indiana factory and add up to 1,200 jobs in the next two years.

The Lafayette factory will see its production capacity grow by 100,000 vehicles a year from its current 300,000, the company said.

The production increase comes after Subaru sold a record 52,697 vehicles in the U.S. during August and represents a show of confidence by parent company Fuji Heavy Industries in Subaru’s only assembly factory outside Japan, said Tom Easterday, Subaru of Indiana Automotive’s executive vice president.


Former peanut exec gets 28 years in prison for outbreak

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) - A former peanut company executive was sentenced Monday to 28 years in prison for his role in a deadly salmonella outbreak, the stiffest punishment ever handed out to a producer in a foodborne illness case.

The outbreak in 2008 and 2009 killed nine Americans and sickened hundreds more, and triggered one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

Before he was sentenced, former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell listened from his courtroom seat as nine victims testified about the terror and grief caused by peanut butter traced to the company’s plant in southwest Georgia.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 125.61 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,510.19. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 8.94 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,966.97. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.73 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 4,828.95.

U.S. crude rose $2 to close at $46.68 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose $1.45 to close at $48.92 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 4.7 cents to close at $1.403 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2.3 cents to close at $1.514 a gallon. Natural gas fell 4.7 cents to close at $2.605 per 1,000 cubic feet

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