By The Associated Press___ Analysts to Apple: Bend your knee to Wall Street NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Apple needs to come down off its pedestal and start making nice with Wall Street, analysts said Thursday as investors hammered the company's stock. The sell-off put Apple a hair's-breadth away from losing its status as the world's most valuable company. At Thursday's close, it was worth $423 billion, just 1.6 percent more than No. 2 Exxon Mobil Corp. The plunge was set off by Apple's quarterly earnings report late Wednesday, which suggested the company's nearly decade-long growth run is slowing drastically. The stock ended down $63.51 or 12 percent, at $450.50. It last traded that low a year ago. ___ Obama picks former prosecutor to head SEC WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ President Barack Obama sent his strongest signal yet Thursday that he wants the government to get tougher with Wall Street, appointing a former prosecutor to head the Securities and Exchange Commission for the first time in the agency's 79-year history. Mary Jo White, former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, has an extensive record of prosecuting white-collar crime. She also won convictions in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 terrorist attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, and put crime boss John Gotti away. If confirmed, she will have the job of enforcing complicated regulations written in response to the worst financial crisis since the Depression. ___ As layoffs keep dropping, hopes rise for job gains WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Employers are laying off fewer workers, a trend that normally suggests hiring is picking up. The January jobs report next week will show whether employers have begun to hire more freely or are still waiting for the economy to strengthen. The number of people seeking unemployment aid has reached a five-year low. Some employers, such as health care companies, restaurants and retailers, are hiring steadily. Yet overall job growth remains modest. And the unemployment rate is the same 7.8 percent it was when Barack Obama became president four years ago.
The economy isn't growing fast enough to accelerate hiring. Flat pay and high unemployment are holding back consumer spending, which rose at a meager annual rate of 1.6 percent in the July-September quarter.___ Bangladesh fire victims' families wait for money DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) â¿¿ When fire ravaged a Bangladeshi garment factory, killing 112 workers, dozens of their families did not even have a body to bury because their loved ones' remains were burned beyond recognition. Two months later, the same families have yet to receive any of the compensation they were promised â¿¿ not even their relatives' last paychecks. An official with the country's powerful garment industry said DNA tests must first be conducted to confirm the losses of more than 50 families. He would not say why the families have not even received the wages their relatives had earned before the Nov. 24 blaze. Many of the families desperately need money after losing their primary breadwinners in the fire at the Tazreen factory, which made clothes for Wal-Mart, Disney and other Western brands. ___ Congress charts new collision course over deficit WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The nation's sharp disagreements over taxes and spending are on a re-routed collision course, as Senate Democrats launch a plan that includes new taxes and House Republicans vow to speed up their plan to balance the federal budget with spending cuts alone. The Republicans' new approach would require even deeper cuts in social programs than they pushed last year. Liberals denounced those earlier plans as severe and unfair, and they say the new version would be worse. The new commitments by House and Senate members stem from the ongoing dispute over raising the federal debt ceiling. The House voted Wednesday to postpone any showdown over the borrowing limit for three months. The Democratic-led Senate plans to endorse the idea, which the White House also supports.
___United Continental posts 4Q loss as traffic falls Travelers avoided United Airlines last year, leaving it with a fourth-quarter loss as it continues to pay for its stumbles in absorbing Continental. United Continental Holdings Inc. on Thursday reported a $620 million loss for the quarter as passenger traffic dropped 3.2 percent. The loss was driven by $408 million in spending on the integration for things such as training and repainting airplanes. Superstorm Sandy hurt profits by $85 million, too. ___ Southwest's 4Q profit slips on higher costs DALLAS (AP) â¿¿ Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings fell by nearly half as costs rose for fuel, labor and maintenance. The airline's revenue climbed slightly, however, as the average fare increased by almost $8 from a year ago. Southwest said that bookings for the first three months of 2013 look strong. It said that based on bookings and ticket prices so far, a key revenue measure should rise by between 2 and 3 percent in January compared with the same month last year. Although the rate of airfare increases has slowed since 2011, fares are still going up partly because airlines are limiting the number of flights, making seats scarcer. Southwest expects the industry as a whole to run about 1 to 2 percent fewer flights in early 2013 than in the same period last year. ___ 3M says 4Q profit rose 3.9 percent MINNEAPOLIS (AP) â¿¿ Post-it notes and other office products helped lift 3M's fourth-quarter profit, despite a slowdown in other parts of its business. The Maplewood, Minn.-based company earned $991 million, or $1.41 per share, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier. The results matched expectations of analysts surveyed by FactSet. 3M said profits grew in its consumer and office business, which makes Scotch tape and Post-it notes, as well as in its health care unit. Profits fell in all four of its other divisions, which make things like industrial products and construction materials.
___NTSB: Boeing 787 battery shows short-circuiting WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery that caught fire earlier this month in Boston shows evidence of short-circuiting and a chemical reaction known as "thermal runaway," in which an increase in temperature causes progressively hotter temperatures, federal accident investigators said Thursday. It's not clear to investigators which came first, the short-circuiting or the thermal runaway, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said. Nor is it clear yet what caused either of them, she said during a news briefing on the board's investigation. The fire took place aboard a Japan Airlines 787 shortly after it landed at Boston's Logan International Airport on Jan. 7. All the passengers had left the aircraft, but a cleaning crew noticed smoke in the cabin 26 minutes after the plane arrived at its gate. It took firefighters nearly 40 minutes to put out a battery fire in the rear auxiliary power unit. ___ Netflix stocks soars 41 percent after strong 4Q report SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â¿¿ Netflix's rollercoaster ride on Wall Street surged to new heights Thursday. The company's stock climbed $43.60 to close at $146.86 as investors celebrated a fourth-quarter earnings report highlighted by accelerated growth in Netflix's Internet video service. The 42 percent increase in Netflix's market value marked the stock's biggest single-day gain since it went public more than a decade ago when investors were still shunning Internet businesses in the wake of the dot-com bust. ___ By The Associated Press(equals) The Dow Jones industrial average gained 46 points to close at 13,825.33. The Nasdaq fell 23.29 points to 3,130.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 0.01 of a point to 1,494.82. Benchmark oil gained 72 cents to finish at $95.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, rose 48 cents to end at $113.28 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to finish at $2.86 per gallon. Natural gas fell 11 cents to end at $3.45 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil added less than a penny to finish at $3.09 a gallon.