By The Associated Press___ Job gains cut unemployment to 7.7 percent, a 4-year low WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The American job market isn't just growing. It's accelerating. Employers added 236,000 jobs in February and drove down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in more than four years. The gains signal that companies are confident enough in the economy to intensify hiring even in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts. Last month capped a fourth-month hiring spree in which employers have added an average of more than 200,000 jobs a month. The hiring has been fueled by steady improvement in housing, auto sales, manufacturing and corporate profits, along with record-low borrowing rates. ___ Stocks gain for sixth day on strong jobs growth NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ A burst of hiring in February pushed stocks higher on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 67.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to 14,397.07. The index surpassed its previous record close Tuesday and logged a sixth straight increase Friday. The strong job growth shows that employers are confident about the economy despite higher taxes and government spending cuts. ___ BP warns of rising costs from spill settlement NEW ORLEANS (AP) â¿¿ BP is warning investors that the price tag will be "significantly higher" than it initially estimated for its multibillion-dollar settlement with businesses and residents who claim they were affected by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The London-based oil giant estimated last year that it would spend roughly $7.8 billion to resolve tens of thousands of claims covered by the settlement agreement. But in a regulatory filing this week, BP PLC said businesses' claims have been paid at much higher average amounts than it had anticipated. The company also said it can't reliably estimate how much it will pay for unresolved business claims following a ruling Tuesday by the federal judge supervising the uncapped settlement. U.S District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP's interpretation of certain settlement provisions.
___Fish McBites fail to spark McDonald's sales NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ McDonald's new Fish McBites failed to hook enough diners to get the fast-food chain's U.S. sales growing in February. The world's biggest hamburger chain said Friday that a key sales figure was down 3.3 percent in the U.S. for the month. When excluding the extra day of sales in February of last year, which was a leap year, the company said the figure was flat. That was despite the rollout of the Fish McBites nuggets in three sizes, which were also offered as the first new Happy Meal entree in a decade. The struggle to grow at home reflects the mounting pressures on McDonald's, which had managed to pull away from its rivals and thrive during the Great Recession. ___ New TSA policy on knives, bats sparks backlash WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals and even insurance companies are part of a growing backlash to the Transportation Security Administration's new policy allowing passengers to carry small knives and sports equipment like souvenir baseball bats and golf clubs onto planes. The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants, said it is coordinating a nationwide legislative and public education campaign to reverse the policy announced by TSA Administrator John Pistole this week. A petition posted by the flight attendants on the White House's "We the People" website had nearly 10,400 signatures early Friday urging the administration to tell the TSA to keep knives off planes. ___ Wal-Mart executive Leslie Dach to leave in June NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Leslie Dach, who played an influential role in reinventing the image of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the face of mounting attacks by labor groups and other critics, is leaving the company in June after seven years. The world's largest retailer said Friday that it has an active search under way to replace Dach.
Dach, 58, joined Wal-Mart in August 2006 as executive vice president of corporate affairs, a newly created position, as anti-Wal-Mart attacks reached a fever pitch on all fronts, from how it treats its workers to how it hasn't taken enough responsibility for its environmental impact. The company's shares fell 20 percent from early 2005 to an eight-year low of $42 two years later. They currently trade around $73.___ News Corp. to spin off publishing with $2.56 billion cash NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ News Corp. said Friday that it will spin off its publishing division with $2.56 billion in cash and no debt, giving it the means to invest in digital operations and acquire businesses. The amount of cash the publishing unit will receive was included in a securities filing on Friday. The amount includes a payment of $1.82 billion from the parent company, to be renamed Fox Group. Another $741 million is already held in cash by the businesses to be spun off. The separation of the publishing businesses from the TV and movie businesses is expected by June. ___ Google cutting 1,200 more Motorola jobs NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Google is cutting an additional 1,200 jobs in its Motorola division as the unprofitable cellphone maker struggles to compete. Last summer Google Inc. announced 4,000 Motorola job cuts. The latest reductions are in addition to those and will include the U.S., China and India. When Mountain View, Calif.-based Google bought Motorola last year for $12.4 billion, Motorola had about 20,000 employees. ___ AP source: Google to pay $7M to settle Wi-Fi case SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â¿¿ Google will pay a $7 million penalty to settle a multistate investigation into the Internet search leader's collection of emails, passwords and other sensitive information sent over wireless networks in neighborhoods throughout the country several years ago.
A person familiar with the matter says the resolution will close a joint investigation by more than 30 states. The person asked not to be identified because the settlement isn't expected to be announced until early next week.The case dates back to 2010 when Google Inc. revealed that company cars taking street-level photos for its online mapping service also had been vacuuming up personal data transmitted over wireless networks that weren't protected by passwords. ___ Damages awarded in J&J's DePuy hip implant case LOS ANGELES (AP) â¿¿ A jury Friday awarded $8.3 million to a former prison guard who accused Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary of knowingly marketing a faulty hip implant that was later recalled. Jurors found that the ASR XL implant was defectively designed and caused metal poisoning and other health problems suffered by Loren Kransky after he underwent surgery in 2007. The panel rejected the 65-year-old's claim that DePuy failed to adequately warn of the risks associated with the implant, and it didn't find the company acted with malice, which prevents Kransky from collecting any punitive damages. ___ By The Associated Press(equals) The Dow Jones industrial average gained 67.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to 14,397.07. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.92 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,551.18. The Nasdaq composite advanced 12.28 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,244.37. Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 39 cents to finish at $91.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was down 30 cents to end at $110.85 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 8 cents to finish at $3.20 a gallon. Heating oil fell less than a cent to end at $2.97 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents to finish at $3.63 per 1,000 cubic feet.