Business Highlights

The Associated Press


Ryan's Medicare plan would be tricky to pull off

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The idea behind Paul Ryan's Medicare plan is to slow growing costs and keep the program more affordable for the long haul.

But it's all in the details. The Republican-backed shift to private insurance plans could saddle future retirees with thousands of dollars a year in additional bills.

That would leave the children of the baby-boom generation with far less protection from medical expenses than their parents and grandparents have had in retirement.

And there's another angle consumers need to look at: Medicaid.

The GOP vice presidential candidate has also proposed to sharply rein in that program and turn it over to the states. Usually thought of as part of the safety net for low-income people, Medicaid covers nursing home care for disabled elders from middle-class families as well.


Phone companies lose broadband subscribers for 1st time

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Phone companies are losing the high-speed Internet game. In the second quarter, the landline phone industry lost broadband subscribers for the first time, as cable companies continued to pile on new household and small business customers, thanks to the higher speeds they offer in most areas.

The flow of subscribers from phone companies to cable providers could lead to a de facto monopoly on broadband in many areas of the U.S., say industry watchers. That could mean a lack of choice and higher prices.

Phone lines, designed to carry conversations, and often decades old, are poorly suited to carry Internet signals compared to the heavily shielded cables that carry TV signals. That means cable companies find it much easier and cheaper to provide fast Internet service compared to the digital subscriber lines, or DSL, that phone companies provide in most areas.


Google cutting 4,000 jobs at Motorola unit

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Google Inc. is making its largest round of layoffs ever as it announced plans to cut about 4,000 jobs at Motorola Mobility just three months after buying the struggling cellphone pioneer.

The move isn't surprising given years of plummeting sales at Motorola, but it signals that Google doesn't intend to drag Motorola along as a money losing venture.

The reductions represent about 20 percent of Motorola Mobility's 20,000 employees and 7 percent of Google's overall workforce. Google says two-third of the job cuts will take place outside of the U.S.


Trade body says UK tourism slumped during Olympics

LONDON (AP) â¿¿ The Olympics brought less tourist money to recession-hit Britain than businesses had hoped for, a trade group said Monday, with a majority of tourist companies reporting losses from last year.

A survey of more than 250 tour operators, hoteliers and visitor attractions found that tourist traffic fell all over Britain, not just London, said UKinbound, a leading trade association representing British tour operators and other businesses dependent on tourists.

The group's survey said that of its members, 88 percent reported some losses during the games compared to the same period last year. The businesses reported that visitor numbers were down by 10 to 30 percent compared to last year, Rance said.


Groupon 2Q beat profit estimates; sales disappoint

CHICAGO (AP) â¿¿ Online deals website Groupon Inc. said Monday that its second-quarter earnings beat Wall Street's estimates, but it underwhelmed analysts with sales growth hurt by unfavorable currency movements.

Net income in the three months to June 30 came to $28.4 million, or 4 cents per share. The earnings reversed a net loss of $107.4 million a year ago.

Excluding the cost of paying executives with stock and a gain on reorganizing a Chinese joint venture, adjusted earnings came to 4 cents per share, beating the 3 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet.


FedEx to offer US staff buyouts in cost cut effort

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ FedEx will soon begin offering buyouts to U.S. employees in an effort to cut costs in the face of a weakening global economy.

The world's second largest package delivery company hinted at cutbacks earlier this summer when it said that slowing economic growth would crimp its earnings well into next year. It has already removed some aircraft from its fleet of more than 600 to account for a loss of demand.

While FedEx hasn't yet decided how many positions will be eliminated, it will likely focus on slow-growth areas like its Express and Services units.


Sears spinning off some stores into separate company

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Sears is moving forward with plans to spin off its Hometown and Outlet stores as well as some hardware stores into a separate publicly traded company.

The news sent the company's stock up $2.16, or 4.2 percent, to $53.58 in afternoon trading Monday.

Sears had signaled that it would split the companies back in February. There are a total of 1,238 Hometown, Outlet and hardware stores as of April 28, according to Sears, which is trying to turn around its business and spruce up its image. It has already closed five Hometown stores, eight hardware stores and one Outlet store.


BP sells US refinery, Arco retail to Tesoro

LONDON (AP) â¿¿ Oil company BP said Monday that it has agreed to sell its refinery in Carson, Calif., and other West Coast assets to Tesoro Corp.

Tesoro is paying $2.5 billion in cash for the refinery, pipelines, storage terminals, marine terminals and about 800 Arco-branded retail outlets in southern California, Arizona and Nevada, the British company said. BP is also selling the Arco brand rights for northern California, Oregon and Washington and will lease them back from Tesoro.

Earlier Monday BP announced it was selling two gas processing plants in Texas to Eagle Rock Energy Partners for $227.5 million in cash.


USDA buys meat to help drought-stricken farmers

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The government will buy up to $170 million worth of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help drought-stricken farmers, the White House said Monday as President Barack Obama brought his re-election campaign to rural voters in Iowa.

The purchase for food banks and other federal food nutrition programs is expected to help producers struggling with the high cost of feed during the worst drought in 25 years.

Federal law allows the Agriculture Department to buy meat and poultry products to help farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters.


Pfizer files IPO plan for animal health business

Pfizer Inc. plans an initial public offering of a minority stake in its animal health business to pay off debt.

The long-anticipated offering by the world's largest drugmaker will represent up to a 20 percent ownership stake in the animal health business called Zoetis. A regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission does not detail the size of the offering or the expected share price.

The filing listed a proposed maximum aggregate offering price of $100 million, but it also stated that that figure was estimated solely to calculate the registration fee.


Judge tentatively OKs $40 million Skechers settlement

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) â¿¿ A federal judge on Monday tentatively approved a $40 million settlement between Skechers USA Inc. and consumers who bought the toning shoes after ads made unfounded claims that the footwear would help people lose weight and strengthen muscles.

An undetermined number of people will be able to get a maximum repayment for their purchases â¿¿ up to $80 per pair of Shape-Ups; $84 per pair of Resistance Runner shoes; up to $54 per pair of Podded Sole Shoes; and $40 per pair for Tone-Ups.

The agreement comes three months after Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Skechers reached a deal with the Federal Trade Commission over the advertisements for the shoes. That settlement was related to a broader agreement that resolves a multi-state investigation led by the attorneys general from Tennessee and Ohio and involving more than 40 states. Skechers will provide an additional $5 million to the states.


By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 38.52 points at 13,169.43. The S&P 500 declined 1.76 to 1,404.11. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.66 points to 3,022.52.

Benchmark oil fell 14 cents to finish at $92.73 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 65 cents to end at $113.60 per barrel in London.

Heating oil fell less than a penny to finish at $3.02 per gallon. Gasoline fell 1.32 cents to end at $2.99 per gallon. Natural gas fell 4 cents to finish at $2.73 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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