Nokia dumps CEO, turns to Microsoft exec

HELSINKI (AP) â¿¿ Nokia Corp. is replacing CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo with Microsoft executive Stephen Elop as the world's top maker of mobile phones aims to regain lost ground in the fiercely competitive smart phone market.

The choice of a North American executive to lead a Finnish company reflects the increasing dominance of U.S. and Canadian companies in the evolution of the phone business.

Apple Inc.'s iPhone has set the standard for today's smart phones, while Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerrys are the favorite of the corporate set. More recently, Google Inc.'s Android software has emerged as the choice for phone makers that want to challenge the iPhone.

Analysts welcomed the choice of the 46-year-old Canadian, who has worked closely with Nokia at Microsoft and at Macromedia Inc. developing software for Nokia phones. He has also held top posts at Juniper Networks Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc. At Microsoft, he headed the Business division, which makes Office software.


Stocks continue September rally; Dow gains again

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Stocks edged higher Friday, extending a rally that began nearly two weeks ago, as investors hold on to their newfound optimism about the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47 points in very light trading. It was the seventh day of gains out of the past eight for the index. Treasury prices eased as traders became more willing to take on risk.

Stocks have shaken off the doldrums of August and marched steadily higher in September thanks to a series of encouraging signals on the economy. The latest came Friday morning with a report that wholesale inventories shot up in July, a sign of confidence that retail sales will pick up.


Obama: Voter anger could hurt Dems in elections

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Facing big Democratic losses in November, President Barack Obama blamed Republicans and election-year politics Friday for thwarting his efforts to do more to spur a listless national economy. He challenged Congress to quit squabbling and quickly approve "what we all agree on" â¿¿ a reprieve for expiring tax cuts for the middle class.

Obama said his economic programs were helping, but "the hole the recession left was huge and progress has been painfully slow."

Noting the stubbornly high jobless rate, Obama acknowledged that many voters in the Nov. 2 midterm elections probably will blame him for economic hard times and could take it out on congressional Democrats.


SEC expands stocks under 'circuit breakers'

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Federal regulators on Friday expanded the number of stocks covered by new "circuit breakers" that can pause volatile trading, a program in response to the panicked May 6 market plunge.

The Securities and Exchange Commission approved expansion of the six-month pilot program of circuit breakers for stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. Now all stocks in the Russell 1000 index also will be covered.

The program, which began in mid-June, briefly halts trading of stocks that make big price swings. Trading of covered stocks that rise or fall 10 percent or more within a five-minute span is halted for five additional minutes.


US widens probe of HP bribery allegations

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ U.S. investigators have widened their probe of alleged kickbacks paid to Russian authorities by employees of a Hewlett-Packard Co. subsidiary in Germany.

Authorities in Russia, Germany and the U.S. have been looking into alleged bribes totaling $11 million paid to secure a $44.5 million contract that ran from 2001 until 2006.

Now, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating governmental and "quasi-governmental" transactions in Russia dating to 2000, according to a quarterly financial statement the computer maker filed Thursday.

HP says it is cooperating with the investigation, which so far has not produced any allegations aimed at the company itself.


China's August trade surplus 2nd highest this year

BEIJING (AP) â¿¿ China's trade surplus hit its second-highest level this year in August, likely fueling U.S. demands for Beijing to ease currency controls.

Export growth weakened as global demand cooled while import growth rebounded in a new sign the slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy might be less severe than expected, government figures showed Friday.

The $20 billion trade surplus will fuel demands by Washington and others for Beijing to ease controls they say keep its yuan undervalued and give Chinese exporters an unfair price advantage. American lawmakers hold hearings this month and some are pushing for sanctions as they face pressure to create jobs ahead of November elections.


New GM CEO's pay package worth $9 million

DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ New General Motors Co. CEO Daniel Akerson will get up to $9 million in salary and stock, the same pay package granted to his predecessor, Ed Whitacre.

Akerson, a former telecommunications industry and private equity executive, will receive $1.7 million in annual salary, $5.3 million in short-term stock payable over the next three years, and another $2 million in stock that's part of the company's long-term executive compensation plan.

The automaker, which is 60.8 percent owned by the U.S. government, disclosed the pay package in a filing on Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is identical to what the company disclosed for Whitacre in February.


Wholesale inventories rise 1.3 percent in July

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Inventories held by wholesalers surged in July by the largest amount in two years while sales rebounded after two straight declines.

The Commerce Department said Friday that wholesale inventories rose 1.3 percent in July, the best performance since July 2008 and triple the increase economists had expected. Sales at the wholesale level increased 0.6 percent, double what had been expected and the best showing since April.

Businesses restocking depleted store shelves has been a major driver of the economy since late last year and the strong gain seen in July should help alleviate fears that the country could be in danger of slipping into another recession.


Smithfield to sell its half of Butterball

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) â¿¿ Pork producer Smithfield Foods is selling its stake in the Butterball turkey joint venture, becoming a pure-play pork producer as it continues focusing on its more profitable packaged meat business.

Butterball, a major name in the turkey world, annually sells 1 billion pounds of turkey â¿¿ 20 percent of all turkeys produced in the U.S.

Smithfield said Friday that its partner, Maxwell Farms, will buy the company's 49 percent interest for about $175 million and then sell a 50 percent stake in the venture to Seaboard Corp. for $177.5 million in cash, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

___ By The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47.53, or 0.5 percent, to close at 10,462.77.

Broader indexes also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.37, or 0.5 percent, to 1,109.55, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.28, or 0.3 percent, to 2,242.48.

Benchmark oil for October delivery rose $2.20 to settle at $76.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In other Nymex trading in October contracts, heating oil rose 3.60 cents to settle at $2.1044 a gallon, gasoline added 3.77 cents to settle at $1.9731 a gallon. Natural gas gained 11.5 cents to settle at $3.883 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent crude rose 69 cents to settle at $78.16 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

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