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Why airlines didn't avoid risky Ukraine airspace

The possibility that the civilian jetliner downed over war-torn eastern Ukraine with nearly 300 people onboard was hit by a missile could have profound consequences for the world's airlines.

Airlines might have to be more vigilant about avoiding trouble spots, making flights longer and causing them to burn more costly fuel, an extra expense that is often passed onto passengers through higher fares. They may even be forced to reconsider many international routes.

In the hours after Thursday's disaster involving a Malaysia Airlines jet, carriers around the globe began rerouting flights to avoid Ukraine. Some had been circumventing the country for weeks. Experts questioned the airline's decision to fly near the fighting, even as Malaysia's prime minister said that the plane's route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was declared safe by international aviation authorities.

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Double disasters taint Malaysia Airlines

HONG KONG (AP) — Hit by two astonishing tragedies in quick succession, the Malaysia Airlines brand may become the airline industry's equivalent of asbestos or News of the World: toxic to the public and, experts say, impossible to redeem.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed over eastern Ukraine on Thursday with 298 people aboard by what American intelligence authorities believe was a surface-to-air missile. Just four months earlier, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying 239 people disappeared about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. The jet has still not been found, a source of profound unease for travellers and the aviation industry.

Even before the Flight 370 mystery, state-owned Malaysia Airlines was in serious financial trouble. In an industry infamous for impoverishing shareholders and irking customers, Malaysia Airlines had long stood out for its years of restructurings and losses.

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Unemployment rates fell in 22 US states in June

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates dropped in 22 U.S. states last month and stayed the same in 14, as the nation at large posted a fifth straight month of solid hiring.

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in 14 states. Meanwhile, employers added jobs in 33 states and cut back in 17.

The biggest drop in the unemployment rate occurred in Illinois, where it fell to 7.1 per cent from 7.5 per cent. The state's rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage points in the past two months, partly because more people have given up searching for work.

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AbbVie, Shire agree on $55B combination

The drugmaker AbbVie has reached a deal worth roughly $55 billion to combine with British counterpart Shire and become the latest U.S. company to seek an overseas haven from tax rates back home.

The companies said Friday they will create a new company that is incorporated on the British island of Jersey, where Shire currently is incorporated. But the new company will be controlled by shareholders of North Chicago, Illinois-based AbbVie, who will own about 75 per cent of the new company's stock.

Shire shareholders will receive cash and stock valued at about 53.19 pounds ($91.07) for each of their shares. They will then hold the remaining 25 per cent stake in the new company.

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Axed Nokia X phones suffered from lack of identity

NEW YORK (AP) — The Nokia X phones that Microsoft discontinued this week blend two rival operating systems, but leave out the best of each.

As a result, the devices didn't become a runaway hit as Nokia's low-cost answer to serving emerging markets.

Nokia X phones were devised to be a gateway to the company's pricier Lumia phones. The operating system that runs the phones was to blend the core technology found in Google's Android system with services and designs found in Microsoft's own Windows Phone system. Nokia looked to Android as a way to sell phones with locally tailored apps unavailable on Windows.

But Microsoft completed its deal to buy Nokia's phone business in April, and Nokia X is gone less than three months later.

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Amazon rolls out 'Netflix-for-books' style service

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is rolling out a new subscription service that will allow unlimited access to thousands of electronic books and audiobooks for $9.99 a month in the online giant's latest effort to attract more users.

The largest U.S. e-commerce site said Friday that the Kindle Unlimited service will give users the ability to read as much as they want from more than 600,000 Kindle titles such as "The Hunger Games" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." They can also listen as much as they like to thousands of Audible audiobooks, including "Water for Elephants."

The service will offer about 2,000 audiobooks from Audible with Whispersync for Voice, which lets users switch between reading and listening to books. Subscribers will get a free three-month membership to the broader Audible service, which has 150,000 titles.

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Marijuana edibles burgeoning into an industry

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Move over, pot brownies.

The proliferation of marijuana edibles for both medical and recreational purposes is giving rise to a cottage industry of baked goods, candies, infused oils, cookbooks and classes that promises a slow burn as more states legalize the practice and awareness spreads about the best ways to deliver the drug.

Edibles and infused products such as snack bars, olive oils and tinctures popular with medical marijuana users have flourished into a gourmet market of chocolate truffles, whoopie pies and hard candies as Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the past year.

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Obama opens Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Obama administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, approving seismic surveys using sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.

Friday's announcement is the first real step toward what could be a transformation in coastal states, creating thousands of jobs to support a new energy infrastructure. But it dismayed environmentalists and people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism.

The cannons create noise pollution in waters shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine reverberating through the deep every ten seconds for weeks at a time. Arguing that endangered species could be harmed was the environmental groups' best hope for extending a decades-old ban against drilling off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

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EPA proposal could block huge Alaska mine

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed restrictions Friday that would essentially block development of a planned massive gold-and-copper mine near the headwaters of a world premier salmon fishery in Alaska.

The announcement came as the EPA was being sued by Pebble Limited Partnership, the group behind the proposed Pebble Mine, and the state of Alaska for allegedly exceeding its authority.

The state and Pebble Partnership, which was created to design, permit and run the mine, argue the EPA should not be able to veto the project before a mine plan is finalized and evaluated through the permitting process. Pebble has asked that a judge block the EPA from taking any additional steps, but no ruling has been made.

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US-EU trade talks sour amid chlorine chicken fears

BRUSSELS (AP) — Visions of chlorine-drenched chickens and the prospect of genetically modified "Frankenfood" invading dinner tables across the European Union are proving serious impediments to the signing of a sweeping free trade agreement between the United States and the 28-country bloc.

Optimism that negotiations, which marked their first-year anniversary this week, would lead to a deal to create a trading bloc of 800 million people representing around half the world's economic output have faltered amid growing public opposition. Suspicions toward the U.S. following a spying scandal and electoral considerations on both sides of the Atlantic have also not helped to foster progress.

A year ago, U.S. President Barack Obama and his European peers sought an agreement to create the trading bloc by the end of 2014.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 123.37 points, or 0.7 per cent, to close at 17,100.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 20.10 points, or 1 per cent, to 1,978.22. The Nasdaq composite index climbed 68.70 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 4,432.15.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery fell 6 cents to close at $103.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for September delivery, a benchmark for international oils, fell 65 cents to close at $107.24 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.1 cents to close at $2.860 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.3 cent to close at $3.951 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil fell 1.4 cents to close at $2.845 a gallon.

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