Business Highlights


Official: Obama to back more business tax breaks

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ President Barack Obama will call on Congress to pass new tax breaks that would allow businesses to write off 100 percent of their new capital investments through 2011, the latest in a series of proposals the White House is rolling out in hopes of showing action on the economy ahead of the November elections.

An administration official said the tax breaks would save businesses $200 billion over two years.

Amid an uptick in unemployment to 9.6 percent, and polls showing that the November election could be dismal for Democrats, Obama has promised to propose new steps to stimulate the economy. In addition to the business investment tax breaks, he will also call for a $50 billion infrastructure investment and a permanent expansion of research and development tax credits for companies.


HP sues ex-CEO Hurd over new job at rival Oracle

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â¿¿ Hewlett-Packard Co. is suing the chief executive it ousted last month, Mark Hurd, to stop him from taking a top job at rival Oracle Corp.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in a California state court, came a day after Oracle hired Hurd as co-president to help lead the database software maker's efforts to steal business from HP. HP claims that Hurd won't be able to perform his job at Oracle without spilling HP's trade secrets and violating a confidentiality agreement.

This type of complaint isn't unusual in the technology world, nor is the confidentiality agreement that Hurd had signed as part of a severance package from HP that could top $40 million.

Technology companies often require such agreements because workers walk out the door with valuable technical information.


Obama's tax-break plan is seen as no quick cure

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Even if they were enacted soon, President Barack Obama's proposed tax breaks for businesses would hardly be a quick fix to rejuvenate hiring or the economy, analysts say.

And what little benefit they might provide wouldn't likely emerge until next year at the earliest.

Until businesses feel more confident about their own sales and the durability of the recovery, they won't be inclined to expand operations or add to their payrolls, economists note. Big companies can already borrow at low rates, and they generally aren't doing so.


Stocks fall as worries about European debt return

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Stocks closed lower Tuesday following new worries about Europe's debt problems. Treasury prices rose and gold settled at a new high as investors sought out safe assets.

U.S. stocks followed European markets lower after news reports said banks in Europe may have more risky government debt on their books than was disclosed during "stress tests" earlier this year. That could mean fees from regulators and more capital-raising by the banks to bolster their balance sheets.

Shares of major European banks including Barclays PLC and UBS fell, and the dollar rose against the euro.


AP Analysis: Economic pain failed to ease in July

Americans' economic struggles persisted in July, largely unchanged from the previous month, according to The Associated Press' monthly analysis of conditions around the country.

Nationally, unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates didn't budge from June. Yet the economic pain varied among localities, depending on their economic bases. Stress eased in counties whose work forces lean toward areas like agriculture, mining, wholesale trade and finance.

By contrast, counties with many employees in the retail and real estate industries suffered higher distress in July, according to a statistical analysis by AP.


FDA cites claims on 2 green tea beverages

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Federal health regulators have issued warnings to the makers of Canada Dry ginger ale and Lipton tea for making unsubstantiated nutritional claims about their green tea-flavored beverages.

In a warning letter issued Aug. 30, the Food and Drug Administration takes issue with the labeling of Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale. The agency issued a similar letter Aug. 23 to Unilever Inc., over website and product labeling for its Lipton Green Tea.


Burger King adds pancakes in breakfast push

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Burger King is introducing nine new breakfast items including blueberry biscuits and pancake platters and planning a major breakfast marketing blitz â¿¿ all with an eye toward eating up some of McDonald's morning business.

The chain said the move Tuesday is its biggest introduction of new items at one time ever. It also includes iced coffee from Seattle's Best.

Chief Marketing Officer Mike Kappitt said the company has dabbled in breakfast for years since Burger King introduced breakfast in 1979 but is now making it a major focus.


Bristol-Myers agrees to buy ZymoGenetics for $885M

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. says it will acquire biotechnology company ZymoGenetics Inc. for $885 million, or $9.75 per share.

The New York drugmaker says its bid is worth $735 million excluding ZymoGenetics' cash on hand. Shares of ZymoGenetics closed at $5.51 Tuesday, making Bristol-Myers' offer a premium of 77 percent. Both companies have approved the deal and the board of ZymoGenetics is recommending that shareholders support the bid.

ZymoGenetics is based in Seattle and makes Recothrom, a drug used to reduce bleeding during surgeries. It is also developing a potential hepatitis C drug and experimental treatments for skin cancer and atopic dermatitis.


Boeing slims down military aircraft business

ST. LOUIS (AP) â¿¿ Boeing Co. is slimming down its military aircraft business and cutting workers as the U.S. tightens defense spending and profit margins shrink.

Boeing's military division makes the well-known Chinook transport helicopters, as well as the C-17 transport and the F/A-18 fighter-bomber.

The job cuts will start with 10 percent of the group's executives. Boeing didn't say how many more workers will lose jobs. It will consolidate six divisions of the business into four.

Boeing said in July that layoffs were likely because of expected government spending cuts. The Pentagon has been looking for savings in weapons spending, including pressing for better prices on the C-17 and the F-15E fighter.


Strikes in France, London foreshadow more protests

PARIS (AP) â¿¿ French strikers disrupted trains and planes, hospitals and mail delivery Tuesday amid massive street protests over plans to raise the retirement age. Across the English Channel, London subway workers unhappy with staff cuts walked off the job.

The protests look like the prelude to a season of strikes in Europe, from Spain to the Czech Republic, as heavily indebted governments cut costs and chip away at some cherished but costly benefits that underpin the European good life ⿿ a scaling-back process that has gained urgency with Greece's ⿬110 billion ($140 billion) bailout.

___ By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 107.24 points, or 1.0 percent, to close at 10,340.69.

Broader indexes also fell, making for a weak start to a week shortened by the Labor Day holiday on Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 12.67, or 1.1 percent, to 1,091.84, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 24.86, or 1.1 percent, to 2,208.89.

Benchmark crude for October delivery fell 51 cents to settle at $74.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading in October contracts, heating oil rose 1.70 cents to settle at $2.0743 a gallon, gasoline gained 1.34 cents to settle at $1.9329 a gallon and natural gas lost 8.7 cents to settle at $3.852 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose 87 cents to settle at $77.74 on the ICE Futures exchange.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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