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Originally published Friday, March 22, 2013 at 2:46 PM

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Business Highlights

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The Associated Press

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The cash register rings its last sale

NEW YORK (AP) - Ka-ching! The cash register may be on its final sale.

Stores across the country are ditching the old-fashioned, clunky machines and having salespeople - and even shoppers themselves - ring up sales on smartphones and tablet computers.

Barneys New York, a luxury retailer, this year plans to use iPads or iPod Touch devices for credit and debit card purchases in seven of nearly two dozen stores. Urban Outfitters, a teen clothing chain, ordered its last traditional register last fall and plans to go completely mobile one day. And Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is testing a "Scan & Go" app that lets customers scan items as they shop.

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Crisis in Cyprus threatens EU role and legitimacy

BERLIN (AP) - By rejecting an EU bailout and turning to Russia for help, Cyprus has exposed the growing frustration and dwindling solidarity within the European Union, a bloc meant to bring the continent closer together after World War II.

While talks about a Russian rescue appeared stalled Friday, experts noted that the idea of seeking Russian money alone raised doubts about the legitimacy of the European project - notably over perceived German dominance and threats to national sovereignty. The extraordinary spectacle of an EU member seeking salvation from the old Cold War enemy has raised deep questions about how far Europe can or will go to take care of its own.

Ever since the financial crisis five years ago put pressure on heavily indebted countries - from Greece to Portugal to Ireland - the bailouts have become as much a political as an economic issue, with wealthy Germany insisting on strict austerity measures as a condition for help.

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Tiffany 4Q net income rises less than 1 percent

NEW YORK (AP) - Tiffany says fourth-quarter net income edged up less than 1 percent, but still beat Wall Street predictions as strong customer demand in Asia for its pricey baubles offset weakness in the U.S.

The upscale jewelry company also offered an annual sales outlook that topped analysts' estimates, and its shares rose nearly 2 percent Friday.

The results, which include the critical holiday season, show Tiffany's resilience even as it faces challenges in the U.S. and a fiscal crisis in Europe.

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Darden 3Q profit falls but tops Street's view

NEW YORK (AP) - Darden Restaurants' third-quarter net income dropped 18 percent, as it dealt with soft sales at Red Lobster, but the results still beat Wall Street's expectations.

The Orlando, Fla., company said Friday that sales at its Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants open at least a year fell a combined 4.6 percent.

This figure is a key gauge of a restaurant operator's performance because it excludes results at store recently opened or closed.

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Investigators scold Boeing over 787 comments

Boeing's comments about the smoldering batteries on its 787 have annoyed the National Transportation Safety Board.

Boeing gave its own account of two battery incidents, which included a fire, at a detailed press briefing in Tokyo last week. The problem is that the NTSB is still investigating the incidents. Boeing is a party to the investigation, meaning it provides technical experts and, in effect, gets a seat at the table as investigators try to sort out what happened.

Boeing's "failure to inform the NTSB of the content off the recent technical briefing in Tokyo prior to its occurrence is inconsistent with our expectations for a party," the NTSB wrote.

The letter released late Thursday noted that on the day of the battery fire in Boston, someone from Boeing signed a certification committing it to the NTSB's guidelines for participating in the investigation.

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FCC Chairman Genachowski to step down

NEW YORK (AP) - The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, said Friday that he's stepping down in the "coming weeks," after a four-year tenure that's garnered mixed reviews for him and tangible progress in the industries he oversees.

The country's top telecommunications regulator told a staff meeting of his decision Friday morning. His impending departure was reported Thursday by several news outlets.

Genachowski, 50, was appointed in 2009 and has taken a middle line between the desires of public-interest groups and the telecom industry, which hasn't enamored him to either side.

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FAA to close 149 air traffic towers under cuts

CHICAGO (AP) - Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the Federal Aviation Administration released a final list Friday of 149 air traffic control facilities that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month.

The closures will not force the shutdown of any of those airports, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers under procedures that all pilots are trained to carry out.

The plan has raised concerns since a preliminary list of facilities was released a month ago. Those worries include the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as key economic engines for attracting businesses and tourists.

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South Korea misidentifies China as cyberattack origin

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - In an embarrassing twist to a coordinated cyberattack on six major South Korean companies this week, investigators said Friday they wrongly identified a Chinese Internet Protocol address as the source.

A joint team of government and private experts still maintains that hackers abroad were likely to blame, and many analysts suspect North Korea. But the error raises questions about investigators' ability to track down the source of an attack that shut down 32,000 computers Wednesday and exposed big Internet security holes in one of the world's most wired, tech-savvy countries.

South Korean investigators said Thursday that a malicious code that spread through the server of one of the hackers' targets, Nonghyup Bank, was traced to an IP address in China. Even then it was clear that the attack could have originated elsewhere because hackers can easily manipulate such data.

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BP announces $8 billion share buyback

LONDON (AP) - Oil company BP said Friday it will buy back $8 billion of shares using money it earned by selling its stake in Russian producer TNK-BP.

The announcement came after BP completed the sale of its 50 percent interest in TNK-BP to Moscow-based Rosneft, in a deal that gave it $12.5 billion in cash and a stake in the state-owned oil company. The deal allowed Rosneft, the Russian oil giant, to tighten its grip on the country's lucrative oil industry.

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PepsiCo says it's not hungry for a big snack deal

NEW YORK (AP) - PepsiCo Inc. says it isn't interested in any big acquisitions after a report suggested a mega-snack food deal could bring its Doritos under the same roof as Oreos.

The Purchase, N.Y., company, which dominates the salty snack market with Frito-Lay, issued a short statement Friday after the Telegraph newspaper of London said activist investor Nelson Peltz could push it to merge with Mondelez, which is known for sweets including Cadbury and Nabisco.

The report cited unnamed sources saying Peltz, who often makes big investments in companies and then forces change, has been building stakes in Pepsi and Mondelez in recent weeks.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 90.54 points, or 0.6 percent, to 14,512.03 Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11.09 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,556.89. The Nasdaq composite gained 22.40 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,245.

Benchmark oil for May delivery rose $1.26, or 1.4 percent, to $93.71 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell 23 cents to $107.24 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $3.06 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $2.97 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 1 cent to $3.93 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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